2014 has marked a massive change in emphasis for the Trent XWB team.
Last year was all about receiving certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency and taking to the skies for the first time; this year the focus is on preparation for full-scale production and entry into service.
Our customers expect the Trent XWB to be flawless, so we’re testing the engine to the edge of the operating envelope in order to identify any areas for improvement before we enter service. Airbus A350 XWB test aircraft are flying around the world in a variety of demanding, environmental conditions, from high altitude in Bolivia to sub-zero temperatures in Canada.
Meanwhile, members of the Trent XWB assembly team are taking the pressure of moving into production in their stride.
"A hundred people are working across three shifts seven days a week now," says Ady Elks, Production Leader in Pre-Production.
"Our focus has been on quality and efficiency. We’re working hard to ensure the assembly of each engine is repeatable, consistent and cost-effective so we can ramp up when full-scale production begins."
Ady believes the programme has benefited from a team that covers both Production and Repair and Overhaul.
"Working with a mixed team has really helped us to combine experience and knowledge from different skill sets," he says. "We’re really proud of the engine and looking forward to its commercial debut."
Throughout the project, everyone has been encouraged to voice any concerns regarding engine build and suggest improvements – these have led to significant gains in engine assembly.
Ady says by the time the engine is in full production, the assembly time will have been reduced by more than two-thirds. "We’ve achieved this through a series of improvements. They include working out the best sequence in which to assemble the engine to make the most of each fitter’s time and doing more preparation work before the build.
"A number of parts, such as the communication system, have to be built as separate units before being assembled into the engine. Previously, this stage – known as sub-assembly – was often run alongside the build, but we’ve saved time by identifying opportunities where we can complete this work in advance."