VP Customer of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Matt O'Connor :
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VP Customer of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Matt O'Connor : "Our engines enable airframers to offer the perfect combination of speed, range, size, efficiency, and reliability"

Issue 18 - 2023
VP Customer of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Matt O'Connor :

Şebnem Akalın: How would you evaluate the current position of Rolls-Royce in the global commercial aviation sector?

Matt O’Connor: At Rolls-Royce, we believe in the positive, transforming potential of technology. 

Our priority for Civil Aerospace is to maximise value from existing capabilities and position the business for the transition to net zero. 

In Civil Aerospace, we have a large installed product base of more than 5,700 large engines and around 9,700 business aviation and regional engines. We also have a large order book with more than 1,500 new, large engines due to be delivered over the next few years, representing a 52% market share and supporting our fleet growth expectations in the medium term.

For the past 25 years, our family of turbofan aircraft engines have continued to push the boundaries of what is possible, as each new model sets new performance benchmarks for civil aviation. All told, they've earned more than 145 million flying hours.

Members of the Trent engine family are now in service on the Airbus A330, A340, A350, and A380, as well as the Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner.

We are also seizing new opportunities for growth. Our Pearl family of business jet engines achieved new successes, with the Pearl 10X chosen by Dassault for its brand-new flagship aircraft, the Falcon 10X, and the Pearl 700 selected by Gulfstream to power its latest ultra-long-range jet, the G800. The introduction of the Airbus A350 freighter created a great opportunity for the Trent XWB engine in a market that has long been dominated by the Boeing 777.

Our engines are hugely competitive in today’s market, but to keep pace with ever-changing, global demands, we know our future generation of engines need to be led by constant, thoughtful innovation.

Recently, Rolls-Royce and China Eastern Airlines have signed a TotalCare® Life service agreement for 10 A330 aircraft powered by Trent 700 engines. We also announced a TotalCare service agreement with Philippine Airlines for Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines that will power nine Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. The first ever net zero transatlantic flight will also take off from the UK next year, with Virgin Atlantic receiving government funding to fly across the pond using solely Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). 

We are powering civil aviation all around the world. Recently we received an order from Air India for 68 Trent XWB-97 engines, plus options for 20 more. This is the biggest ever order for the Trent XWB-97, which exclusively powers the Airbus A350-1000.

Today, our services all around the world offer the flexibility and connectivity required in a globalised world, fly heads of states around the globe, support humanitarian efforts, or connect families by making the world a smaller place. Therefore, our engines enable airframers to offer the perfect combination of speed, range, size, efficiency, and reliability.

Şebnem Akalın: Operating in the country for a long time, Rolls-Royce has made multiple cooperations in Türkiye. In this context, what can you say about the ongoing or future projects you carry out in the field of civil aviation in the country?

Matt O’Connor: Türkiye is full of opportunities, and we are committed to doing our best to support the country to reach its full potential, as it is a strategic market for us with its diversified order book and strong business volume. 

In the field of civil aviation in the country, our long-term partnership with Turkish Airlines (THY) started with their selection of Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines powering Airbus A330s in 2009.  Today, THY is operating 26 Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered Airbus A330s. Additionally, one Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered Airbus A330 & one Trent 500 powered Airbus A340, and BR730 and Tay powered Gulfstream G450 and G550 Business Jets are being used for VIP operations. We are currently working with Turkish Technic (the Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul arm of THY) to authorize them an Authorised On-wing Service Center (ASC) for Business Jet engines to serve their local and international Gulfstream customers. THY ordered a significant number of Airbus A350 powered with Trent XWB engines, which entered service in 2020. We are very impressed with THY and its remarkable global market penetration and robust recovery post-pandemic.

Additionally, MNG Airlines operates a fleet of Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered Airbus A330s. 

To help and maintain the operations of our airline customers in Türkiye, Israel and Central Asia, our Airline Support Team based in Turkish Technic’s Yeşilköy facilities have been providing on-site support. We hope to continue our partnership with THY as well as our other airline customers in the region by providing our new technologies and services. 

At Rolls-Royce, we aim to produce a sustainable business to achieve net zero carbon in our operations by 2030. One of our company’s biggest focuses on our net zero journey right now is SAF. In February 2022, Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Safran and Singapore Airlines signed the Global SAF Declaration committing to promote the acceleration of the development, production, and consumption of SAF. The Global SAF Declaration represents the collaboration between aviation, aerospace, and fuel partners to decarbonise the industry. The Declaration is open to all airlines, as well as aviation and aerospace organisations as a complement to their sustainability commitments. At the Istanbul Airshow in 2022, THY became the newest member of the signatories, which was one of the most important milestones in 2022. THY declared its commitment to help Rolls-Royce and its partners with the widespread and rapid adoption of SAF. This agreement exemplifies the firm momentum that Türkiye has to drive sustainable operations. The next step for us is to determine a joint roadmap and understand the potential cooperation areas around SAF. In a nutshell, we always look for new opportunities and further collaborations to make a positive impact in Türkiye.

Şebnem Akalın: Sustainability has been accelerated all around the globe due to climate change and its effects. How does Rolls-Royce plan to keep up with this transition? What do you think is needed to decrease the effects of climate change?

Matt O’Connor: Our decarbonisation strategy starts with the emissions in our own operations, extends to our value chain, and ultimately focuses on the contribution we can make to a global transition. We are now laying out our technology pathway to net zero and committing to ensuring our new products will be compatible with the net zero operation by 2030, and all our products compatible by 2050.  

We believe there are few companies better placed than Rolls-Royce to lead the way with vital solutions we need to create a net zero future. Our top priority is the development of technical solutions that can directly reduce or remove carbon emissions permanently to leave a healthy planet for the next generations.  

Şebnem Akalın: Rolls-Royce is committed to ensuring its products to be compatible with the net zero operation by    2030. Could you please inform our readers about Rolls-Royce’s ongoing zero carbon projects?

Matt O’Connor: To combat the climate crisis, we know that power must be made compatible with net zero carbon emissions. For us, this is a societal imperative as well as one of the greatest commercial and technological opportunities of our time. Therefore, our strategy for Civil Aerospace for net zero focuses on improving engine efficiency, enabling the use of SAF, and being at the forefront of developing innovative propulsion technologies. Recently we successfully completed the first tests of UltraFan technology demonstrator at its facility in Derby, UK. The first tests were conducted using 100% SAF. 

Additionally, we have partnered with Boeing and World Energy to carry out a test flight of our 747 Flying Testbed aircraft using 100% SAF on a Trent 1000 engine. 

Through our ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project, we built the world’s fastest all-electric plane. Our "Spirit of Innovation" aircraft completed its first flight and reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). We have now officially broken two world speed records as verified by the World Air Sports Federation. The aircraft also achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182 mph) faster than the previous record. 

Our electrical power system is also set to power Vertical Aerospace’s flagship UAM aircraft. This will be integrated into the piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, which will carry up to four passengers for 100+ miles at cruise speeds of over 200mph and is on course to certify in 2024. We have also joined forces with airframer Tecnam and Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, targeted to be ready for revenue service in 2026.

In 2022, Rolls-Royce and easyJet confirmed that they have set a new aviation milestone with the world’s first run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen. The ground test was conducted on an early concept demonstrator using green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power. It marks a major step towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero carbon aviation fuel of the future and is a key proof point in the decarbonisation strategies of both Rolls-Royce and easyJet. 

In line with the commitments that we have also made under the UN Race to Zero campaign, we are aligning our entire business model to the Paris Climate Agreement goals to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC. This plan will put Rolls-Royce at the forefront of the historic innovation and future growth opportunity that the net zero transition represents.

In conclusion, we manage our business for the long term. We envision technology acquisition and innovation ahead of customer needs. This ongoing commitment to innovation is essential to meeting customers’ and society’s needs for sustainable power and a greener future 


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