Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has started work on its new testbed facility in Derby, UK. The building was announced in June 2017 as part of a wider £150 million ($211 million) investment in UK aerospace facilities.

Expected to be commissioned in 2020, it will provide additional capacity as the civil aerospace business continues to ramp-up engine production.

It comes just two months after the engine maker unveiled a testbed facility in the US.

The new facility be able to test a range of engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000. The building will also serve as a base for testing UltraFan, Rolls-Royce’s engine for the next generation of airliners.

The new testbed will set conditions and obtain evidence from a wide variety of test activities, such as water ingestion and endurance testing. It will also benefit from the latest advances in test equipment, including new x-ray capabilities.

The testbed itself will have an internal area of 7,500 sq m (80,729 sq ft.) and will be surrounded by two concrete walls measuring up to 1.7m thick.

The groundbreaking “comes at a pivotal moment for our civil aerospace business as we ramp up production to record levels and look forward to completing a hat-trick of new engine launches, with the Trent 7000 set to enter service later this year,” Rolls-Royce president-civil aerospace Chris Cholerton said at the ceremony. 

Derby is the home of the design and development of a trio of new Rolls-Royce engines—the Trent 1000 TEN, which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family and entered service in November 2017; the Trent XWB-97, which powers the Airbus A350-1000 and entered service in February 2018; and the Trent 7000, which will power the Airbus A330neo when it enters service later this year.

The new testbed supports the IntelligentEngine vision recently outlined by Rolls-Royce by bringing together the latest in digital and physical testing technology. In addition to designing, testing, and maintaining engines in the digital realm, the IntelligentEngine vision sets out a future where an engine will be increasingly connected, contextually aware and comprehending, starting from its time on the testbed.

Alan Dron alandron@adepteditorial.com