In 2011, I was part of the team that took a Trent XWB engine overseas for the first time. Our destination was the Rolls-Royce Outdoor Engine Test Facility at John C. Stennis, NASA Space Centre, Mississippi, USA.
As a Development Engineer at the time, I was responsible for gathering the engine test data required to certify the engine safe to operate in crosswind conditions. I had been planning the testing for over two years, ensuring the engine configuration was representative of service operation, all the necessary instrumentation was installed, and all the test conditions were suitably defined and agreed with the regulatory authorities.
I relocated to USA for over a year to support the testing, moving from my house in the UK to a small hotel room in Mississippi. My life at that point completely changed. My waking hours were entirely governed by the performance of the engine and the weather conditions, with the majority of the testing split through the night and into very early morning to capture the optimal weather conditions. No two days were ever the same, working through electrical storms, or tropical rainstorms with temperatures exceeding 40°C.
This was a truly unique experience both professionally and personally - testing a jet engine through the night and training in the local gym with the US Navy during the day. The test site is surrounded by a vast expanse of open swamp which meant we were often visited by alligators and an exotic array of insects and snakes in the middle of the night.
My task of inspecting the engine after each test was somewhat unnerving knowing there were hundreds of eyes watching me.
We have created a world class product in the Trent XWB, and I am very proud to be a part of the team. Undoubtedly, this fantastic achievement has only been realised through the efforts of all the great people that have been involved around the world.