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Rolls Royce looks at India
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Charting a new flight 
A thriving Indian aviation sector tempts UK based aircraft engine maker, Rolls-Royce, to pursue engine component design and manufacturing here, writes Atreyee Dev Roy
Posted online: Monday, November 13, 2006 at 0000 hours IST 
 The boom in Indian aviation sector is not just confined to private carriers placing impressive orders for fresh mint aircraft and passengers experiencing new freedom in the air at low fares. The sector is beginning to attract engine component design and manufacturing to the subcontinent as well. The decision by UK-based aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce to broaden its partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and foray into civil aerospace sector—so far, the relationship was restricted to the defense sector—for engine component design and manufacturing is a sign of the emerging trend.
Global aircraft and engine manufacturers like Airbus, Boeing, GE, Snecma and Pratt & Whitney, are keen to set up facilities here and undertake engine design and manufacturing. In such a scenario, the decision by Rolls-Royce to broaden its existing relationship of 50 years with HAL reflects the growing importance of the country emerging as a technology hub in the civil aviation sector. For one, it will allow a broader partnership on more strategic initiatives, including advanced engineering. This could potentially include a variety of work in India related to the design, manufacture and assembly of components for Rolls-Royce engines across aerospace segments. Rolls-Royce will also open a supply chain office at HAL facilities.

Rolls-Royce, which made HAL a member of its global supply chain in 2003, has in place a strong license manufacturing partnership with HAL. Rolls-Royce engines currently in service with the armed forces include the Avon, Viper, Dart, Pegasus, Model 250 and Gnome H1400. They power aircraft like the Canberra, Avro, Sea Harrier, Britten Norman Islander and the Sea King. On its part, HAL has been contributing to the civil aviation business of Rolls-Royce since 2003. Besides supplying ring forgings to the latter for its Trent family of engines, HAL has also been engaged in undertaking repair and overhaul of Avon, Dart, Adour and Gnome aero engines of Rolls-Royce.

Analysts estimate that the Asian aircraft engine market is expected to touch $215 billion in the next 20 years. Closer home, four of the major private carriers—Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, Air Deccan and Indigo—have placed orders for engines for their new aircraft with Rolls-Royce.

Buoyed by the market potential in this region, the UK-based aircraft engine maker is particularly studying this market, as 65% of the total twin aisle aircraft deliveries will be made to Asia, pushing the demand for the latest Trent engines developed by it.

Globally, the total engine market currently stands at 114,000 engines, worth $600 billion. As per market studies done by Rolls-Royce, carriers from ‘growth’ markets like China, India and the Middle East placed majority of the orders for new engines. Of the 2,027 orders placed for mainline passenger jets in 2005, India accounted for 322 aircraft next only to China's 332. It, however, does not have any exclusive forecast for India. Nevertheless, India’s present air traffic growth is similar to the robust growth that was seen in the Chinese market in the early 1990s.

By drawing parallels between the India and China, Rolls-Royce expects 715 more aircraft to enter the Indian market in the next 20 years. The US aircraft maker Boeing is even more optimistic as its 20-year projection shows that almost 856 commercial jets would enter Indian market. Also, it is expected that with the growth of long-haul capacity from India, the traffic growth between India and North America be expected to pick up from 2010 onwards. This is the time when Rolls-Royce expects more Trent engine orders being generated from the Indian market.

The Trent family of engines are designed to power the new generation of wide-bodied jets comprising the new high capacity Airbus A380, entering service in 2007, the Boeing 787 (entry into service in 2008) and the Airbus A350 XWB. All the Trent engines use three-shaft architecture that allows low risk scaling from existing designs. Rolls-Royce has introduced several features in the new engine design to reduce fuel consumption and lower weight.

Says Peter M Cox, product-marketing manager (Trent), Rolls-Royce, “The four major and recent innovations brought into the Trent engines are: fuel efficiency through aerodynamic designing, increase in pressure ratio and cooling for efficiency at higher temperatures, component efficiency and control system.”

When it comes to engine design, it is a prerequisite to consider various facets like fuel efficiency, including weight, life, cost and the environment, says Cox. This requires balance because improving one area, for example fuel efficiency, might make another characteristic, say maintenance cost, worse. Useful technology allows improvement in one or more characteristic, without making the others worse, he says.

As such, fuel efficiency of an engine depends on three things:

• Propulsive efficiency, which is mainly bypass ratio or more simply fan diameter

• Thermal efficiency, which depends on overall pressure ratio and turbine temperature

• Component efficiency, which is the aerodynamic efficiency of the fan, compressors and turbines

According to Cox, aerodynamic research and advances in computer-aided design techniques—3D, viscous flow and swept fan—give significant improvements in component efficiencies. New materials such as powder metallurgy, ceramic coatings and single crystal metals, allow compressors and turbines to run to faster speeds and higher temperatures, which make them lighter (fewer blades), longer lasting, more powerful as well as more efficient. Improvements in turbine cooling technology gives better turbine efficiency and longer engine life between overhauls.

These technologies also allow Rolls-Royce to design engines, which run at higher pressure and temperature, and give better fuel efficiency from fundamental thermodynamic principles. For example, all other things being equal, running an engine to higher pressures will improve fuel consumption. However, without new technology, just increasing pressure and temperature will make other aspects of the design, such as weight and life, worse. The new technologies allow higher pressure and temperature with fewer parts giving better fuel efficiency and lower weight and cost.

The engine manufacturer also plan to introduce, Intelligent Engine Health Monitoring systems on the Trent-1000 engine on the Boeing 787, which will use predictive maintenance technology thereby allowing the aircraft more wing time and reduce disruption of services.

Cox informs that Rolls-Royce is targeting a 10% reduction in fuel consumption of all newly designed engines by 2010. And, as fuel consumption is directly responsible for emission of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, a decrease in consumption will automatically decrease emission levels.

At present, there are over 50 customers of Trent engines, with Kingfisher Airlines being the first airline from India to order Trent engines for their five A- A340-500 aircraft. The company generates half its revenue from selling new engines, while half of it comes from maintenance and repair of the old engines. In all likelihood, it may now see benefits of the aviation boom here as well.

-- Edited by karatecatman at 15:24, 2006-11-15



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When theres Demand there will be more Business.

RB211 are good Engines.



Think of the Brighter Side !!!
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