UK-based multinational engineering company Rolls-Royce said that the coronavirus pandemic may provide the opportunity for new engine technologies to be developed and a potential re-entry of narrow-body jetliners into the market.
Simon Burr, engineering and technology chief in Rolls-Royce stated that while the pandemic has affected the wide-body aircraft sector in which Rolls specializes, the recession has also made a block before cash-strapped airlines who were ready to invest in major development changes such as a hydrogen propulsion.
“The industry’s going through a bit of a hiatus. We want to be in a position that when someone launches a new product we’re credible, whatever that market may be. We don’t rule ourselves out of any part of the market today because evolution in the 2020s could be quite exciting,” he continued.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), “Rolls-Royce’s focus on bigger planes threatens to dent earnings for years to come with a demand for inter-continental travel set to remain sluggish even after a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out.”
While the UK business is cutting thousands of jobs to survive the pandemic, Mr. Burr said the company aims to retain engineering expertise for the future that by moving workers to its nuclear and defence companies.
Mr. Burr further added, the Rolls is in touch with aerospace company, Airbus SE about new possibilities and doesn’t rule out putting itself forward to provide engines for a hydrogen-powered model that the Toulouse-based manufacturer intends to manufacture by 2035. The plane will have a narrow body that can seat 200 people.
Now, the major development project of Rolls-Royce is the UltraFan jet engine, which was planned to be the successor to the Trent series, that helps the company to become a global force. While the Trent family powers only wide-body planes, the UltraFan is set to have a thrust range spanning 25,000 pounds to 100,000 pounds, making it fitting for the complete spectrum of jetliners. The ground tests of the UltraFan is expected to begin by the end of next year.