Rolls-Royce is building on its experience with the Boeing 787 Trent 1000 and Airbus A350 TrentXWB program to develop upgrade packages to improve specific fuel consumption on the Trent 900, the engine powering the Airbus A380.

Rolls-Rolls already has implemented and delivered improvements yielding 1% reduced fuel burn that should be in service next year. It puts the engine ahead of specification, says Peter Johnson, Rolls-Royce’s head of marketing for Airbus aircraft.

Another round of upgrades yielding 0.8% lower specific fuel consumption should enter service in 2013, says Rosie Toogood, Trent 900 program director. The second round of upgrades will be introduced gradually, with the full set to be introduced in 2013. In general, the work is focused on “improving surface finishes and optimizing the way air flows through the engine and cooling the engine.”

The initial package included introducing elliptical leading edges throughout the compressor, boosting low-pressure turbine tip clearance, and introducing a hard coast drum for the high-pressure compressor.

The second phase includes optimizing fan blade tip clearance, improved turbine case cooling, improved sealing for the low-pressure turbine, elliptical leading edges in the stator section, aero-reprofiling, and air systems optimization. Toogood notes that the turbine case cooling, in particular, will yield through-life benefits.

Moreover, “more than half of these improvements are retrofitable,” Toogood says, such as the elliptical leading edges. Turbine case cooling would be another area that could relatively easily be introduced on existing Trent 900s.

Rolls-Royce has 30 Trent 900-powered Airbus A380s in service, with almost 1 million flight hours logged. The engine maker has secured Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa, British Airways, Malaysia, Thai Airways, Virgin Atlantic, China Southern, Asiana Airlines and Skymark. It has won 11 out of 16 campaigns, although rival Engine Alliance has more orders for its GP7200, in part by virtue of having won the order for Emirates.

Rolls-Royce says its offering beats the rival engine in NOx, fuel-burn, and CO2 output, although it acknowledges that on smoke it is marginally behind the GP7200 performance.