Rolls-Royce To Power Aeralis Modular Jet Trainer

aeralis concept
The Aeralis concept calls for a common core fuselage and open architecture avionics that would enable operation with different wing platforms and engine configurations.
Credit: Aeralis Concept

LONDON—Rolls-Royce is to provide the power and propulsion systems for the modular jet training aircraft being developed by UK startup Aeralis.

The aero-engine manufacturer signed a memorandum of understanding with Aeralis to support the development of its aircraft, on the first day of the DSEI exposition in London on Sept. 14. 

Aeralis is working on the development of a family of training aircraft built around a common-core fuselage, open-architecture avionics and a digital approach to assurance and certification.  

The fuselage could be equipped with different engines or different wings, depending on the nature of the training or the desired mission of the aircraft, with the aircraft adapting to its new configuration through adaptable software.  

The memorandum of understanding will initially focus on using Rolls-Royce’s propulsion systems to power the preproduction aircraft, and the ability to integrate them digitally in the aircraft design process. 

Neither company has said which engines could fit Aeralis’ requirements, but Alex Zino , executive vice president for business development and future programs at Rolls-Royce, said the OEM was investing in a “new small engine capability” that would lean on the digital environment. 

Zino said these engines would have a wide range of uses including in effectors—potentially hinting at their use in unmanned aircraft systems—in weapons, or to support directed energy systems, noting that several options could fit the different configurations that Aeralis envisages for the platform, including single- and twin-engine versions.  “It is about how we work with Aeralis to find out what the right fit is, what the right family is, and where we start that journey together. 

The selection of Rolls-Royce comes days after Aeralis announced it had teamed up with Siemens on software applications and engineering consultancy Atkins to support integration and certification work, as Aeralis eyes a potential first flight of a preproduction aircraft before 2025. 

“We are in a unique opportunity here ... because we are driven under our own steam and not waiting on requirements, we have the potential window to really develop rapidly to meet that very concrete market that is opening up right now,” said Aeralis CEO Tristan Crawford.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.