On 27th May, Rolls-Royce officially opened Testbed 80; the world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed.
The completion of the project is a major milestone, after almost three years of construction and a £90m investment. With an internal area of 7,500m2, making it larger than a Premiership football pitch, Testbed 80 was designed with distinctive technologies and systems which are more capable and complex than any previous engine testbeds. Earlier this year, the testbed conducted its first run on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine at the test facility in Derby, UK .
“Testbed 80 is the largest facility of its type in the world. However, it is not only big but it is also smart and features the most advanced testing technology we have ever used. As the new global hub of our testing capability it will support the next stage of our UltraFan programme, as we begin ground testing the first demonstrator in 2022. This incredible piece of infrastructure is a very visible sign of our commitment to this site and secures the future of Derby as the home of large engine development, continuing a history that began in the late 1960s with the RB211.”Warren East, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said “This testbed here in Derby shows that the UK remains a global leader in aeroengine technology. I’m proud that we’re supporting Rolls Royce’s development of the highly-efficient UltraFan engine, as well as investment in green and cutting- edge aerospace technology here in the UK that will create high-skilled, well-paid jobs for decades to come."
“As the civil aviation market recovers, the innovation of great British companies such as Rolls- Royce and the entire aerospace sector, are central to our plans to build back better from the pandemic and end our contribution to climate change by 2050.”
The facility has been designed to test a range of today’s engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000, and it will also have the capability to test the UltraFan demonstrator; it is the the blueprint for Rolls Rpyce's next generation of engines. UltraFan will be 25% more efficient than the first Trent engine, ground testing of the demonstrator at the testbed is scheduled to begin in 2022.
Rolls Royce is committed to promoting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), which can already be used as “drop-in” fuels in existing engines. Testbed 80 has been designed to support this commitment and it is equipped with a 140,000-litre fuel tank (you could fill your car up almost 3,000 times with this amount of fuel) for different fuel types, including SAFs.
The testbed is designed to have the capability to test the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future.
I toured the site in early 2020, while it was still under construction. It was certainly impressive and definitely huge. Take a look at the video: