Airplanes have a limited life expectancy. They last for years, but every plane will eventually wear out and retire from active service with an airline. Some of them end up as scrap while others find their way into new roles. Rolls-Royce has acquired one of those retired planes for research purposes. They plan to use it to help test new engines that may see use on the planes of the future.
The test plane began life as a Boeing 747, one of the most common jets among modern airlines. It flew for one of the world’s oldest and largest airlines, Qantas Airways Limited, for two decades before transitioning to its new role. It will need roughly two years and millions of dollars before it is ready to take to the skies again.
That investment of time and money will equip the plane with both a new engine and all of the special instruments that it will need to track the engine’s performance while it is still in the air. The modifications will ensure that the jet is as much a research station as an aircraft. It is certainly a large project, but it is likely to go smoothly. Rolls-Royce has plenty of experience because the company has already converted another Boeing 747 for research purposes.
Rolls-Royce plans to use their plane to test one of their latest designs, the UltraFan engine. The company hopes that the new engine will offer more fuel efficiency than modern engines, improved safety, and a higher level of general performance. The improvements will benefit both the environment and the passengers on future planes. That type of improvement may seem like a tall order, but Rolls-Royce is confident that it can get the job done. They have a large team working on the project and plenty of technical experience. The company hopes to start deploying the new engines within a decade.
It will take years of tweaking and testing to prepare the new technology for deployment. After all, jet engines are highly complicated devices and Rolls-Royce needs to be sure that they are safe before deploying them. Their newest test plane will definitely have a lot of work to do in the coming years.