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Rolls-Royce engines power ‘flying whale’

The first flight of Airbus's new BelugaXL air transporter, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.
The first flight of Airbus's new BelugaXL air transporter, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.

Rolls-Royce’s Trent 700 engines, parts for which are made at the firm’s Hucknall plant, have powered the first flight of a new air transporter, dubbed the ‘flying whale’.

The formidable BelugaXL took to the skies from Toulouse in France. It is the first of five new aircraft that will replace the current Airbus Beluga fleet, and it features a distinctive whale-themed livery.

The BelugaXL is based on an Airbus A330 design, and the Trent 700 has established itself as the clear engine of choice on this type of aircraft, with a market share of 90 per cent over the last three years. More than 1,600 engines are in service today and the Trent 700 has been selected by 88 operators across the world.

Adair Swan, who is Rolls-Royce’s Trent 700 programme director for civil aerospace, said: “We are proud to be powering the BelugaXL for Airbus.

“As well as being a plane-spotter’s delight, aircraft like these have a very special role to play in bringing the aerospace supply chain to life.

“The Trent 700 is the perfect engine to support this critical process, with more than 50 million flying hours under its belt.”

Rolls-Royce has drawn on its Trent 700 experience to help create the Trent 7000 engine which will power the Airbus A330neo aircraft into service later this year.

The Trent 7000, the seventh member of the Trent family, also incorporates architecture from the Trent 1000 TEN, the latest version of the Trent 1000 engine, and the latest technology from the Trent XWB, which is the world’s most efficient, large civil engine.

The Hucknall plant, off Watnall Road, is a vital cog in the Rolls-Royce wheel, employing almost 900 people. Last summer, it was given a huge boost when the company announced plans to invest millions of pounds at the site to safeguard jobs, rather than hand its work over to sub-contractors.

Eric Schulz, president of Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace business, said: “The money we are investing is all about growing capacity. Hucknall is building some imporant parts for our engines and, as we continue to grow, it will have to deliver more.

“The investment comes at a time of unprecedented growth in Rolls-Royce, and we are committed to sustaining employment in the UK.”