QF32 Back Story – Rolls Royce Trent 900 – Request for Questions

I have been researching Rolls-Royce engines for decades.     I have studied the engine’s “workshop manuals”.   I visited the Rolls-Royce production and engineering facilities in Derby, UK just two weeks before my QF32 event.

Yesterday I toured the Sin$700 m Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus in Singapore.   This is the first production facility for Rolls-Royce outside the UK and it is an amazing high tech resource for Asia-Pacific aviation.  The first Trent 900 fan blades are now amassing at the end of an 80 process production line, ready to be assembled into Seletar’s first Trent 900 engine that should be finished within a month.    I spent another seven hours quizzing the scientists and engineers about every aspect of the design, construction, testing and operation of the Trent 900 engine that we see on the A380.

I think I now know this extraordinary and remarkable engine pretty well.

Tin Ho, Rolls-Royce Operations Director , Seletar Assembly and Test Unit, Singapore, in front of an A380 Trent 900 fan assembly. (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

Tin Ho, Rolls-Royce Operations Director , Seletar Assembly and Test Unit, Singapore, in front of an A380 Trent 900 fan assembly. (Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

I intend now to write a report about the Trent 900 engine.  This will be for pilots and interested persons who want to get deep into engine design and operation.

Request for Questions

Please send me your Jet Engine, Rolls-Royce, Trent 900 and A380 Engine questions.  I’ll use your responses to guide the topics in my report.

Topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • metrics
  • efficiencies
  • 2 spool versus 3 spool
  • aerodynamics
  • fan blades (composite versus titanium)
  • turbine blades
  • bladed disks verses blisks
  • Surge, Choke and Operating lines
  • wear and lifetime
  • testing / certification
  • vibration, monitoring
  • temperatures and margins
  • flutter
  • ice
  • bird strikes
  • buzz-saw effect
  • noise

Win a Rolls-Royce Lapel Pin

Photo: Rusty Corner

Photo: Rusty Corner


Photo: Rusty Corner

Photo: Rusty Corner

Rusty Corner won a Rolls-Royce lapel pin on a recent flight.   His comments are below.

The captain announced:  “If anyone would like to guess how many horsepower is produced per turbine blade on the A380’s gas turbines there’s a Rolls Royce lapel pin up for grabs!”

With a guess of 870hp/blade I was 30hp off the correct 900hp & won the RR pin! 

A little more engine/aeroplane/navy ship talk & I was invited up to the cockpit upon arrival.

Photo: Rusty Corner

Photo: Rusty Corner


  1. Hi Richard,

    I just stumbled upon this article. Thanks for putting ‘our’ picture on the cover. I think it is time for a return visit to Seletar. Love to have you do a VOC. Your book was fascinating. Cheers, Tin

  2. Hello,
    I am doing a comparison on the Trent 900 against the GP7200. Could you share some information that you might have on the following:
    fan blades (composite versus titanium),
    wear and lifetime,
    testing / certification

    Thank you!

    1. Good questions. Most of these answers will be provided in my Big Jets book.

      1. Nev: How do I get it?
        Rich: Register here

      2. When will the Big Jets book be ready?

      3. Nev it is being delayed by many events that are taking up my precious time. Rich

  3. Hi Rex, Thanks for the kind words and suggestions.

    I will put a few paras about the contra-rotating shafts into the Big Jets book. The paras will use the term “impulse” – if that helps frame the response.

    Thanks again for your feedback. ALL of it is welcome!


  4. Rob Zreczycki · · Reply

    Dear Richard!
    Thank you so much again for taking to time to sign my copy of your book.
    I’m sure you might be aware that Melbourne based company LTQ Engineering, the last major engine maintenance and overhaul facility in Australia, ceased operations in September 2012 ‘owing to the strong decline in engine overhaul demand’. What a great loss to Australia’s aviation industry that this Lufthansa Technik/Qantas joint venture is now gone.
    The QF32 incident certainly highlighted the importance of not only engine design and engineering, but also the huge continual investment in maintenance.
    I know that technology continues to improve, new materials are invented and refined, but I would be very interested in hearing your opinion in this area and/or the maintenance demands RR places on its Trent 900 engines.
    I just can’t wait to get my own copy of your next book!
    Very best wishes and safe flying!

  5. Lionel Thompson · · Reply

    Hello Richard I have long followed the workings of the big fan engines through Flight International’s cutaways. I can understand the logic behind the thrust bearing layout for the two spool engines as put out by GE and PW, but failed to understand the philosophy for the RB211-524G. As I understand it the thrust bearings are positioned at the front of each spool, but this does not seem to be the case for three spool architecture. If your impending report on the Trent 900 has an explanation for this I would be most interested in this particular aspect.

    I believe the big fan engines are the most marvellous pieces of concentric engineering on this planet and I would love to see how one of these is put together from the inside out. Without them aviation as we know it would not exist.

    I look forward to your report and the Big Jets book.

    KInd regards

    Lionbel Thompson

    1. Hi Lionel, thank you for these requests. I should be able to cover them all in the big jets book. Best Regards Rich

  6. Peter Lapthorne · · Reply

    G’Day Richard,

    I would think that in today’s “eco-age” there would be interest in the question of environmental friendliness. In the context of how today’s generation of big engines like the Trent compare with the old smoky engines like the JT-3’s on the early 707’s. and the even older radial predeccessors.

    A chapter or section on:

    SFC Comparison with older engines. How the improvements have occurred

    Carbon footprint. What has been done to get rid of the smoke

    Efficiency in layman’s terms. Fuel burn per passenger Sydney to London vs the family car

    Oil consumption versus the old radial engines (side bar. My father was part of the crew who delivered the first Viscount to Australia. Coming off the radial engines on the DC-6B they insisted, against the advice of the Rolls Royce engineers, on carrying several cases of oil for the engines. They used only a quart)

    And oil life, given the higher operating temperatures.


    Peter Lapthorne

  7. Dan Bridges · · Reply

    Concerning bird strikes with any jet airplane, I’d like to know what would be the outcome if a a large bird, e.g. goose, gets ingested. Will it break turbine compressor blades?

    If the goose-strike causes damage, will all bird strikes do so, or is there a minimum body size that is not likely to result in engine damage?

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