Inside the next generation of aerospace engines

Pete Calvert, 27, is a composite manufacturing engineer at Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace division, developing brand new materials that are helping to revolutionise the aerospace industry.
(from The Telegraph, 29 October 2015)

Telegraph_profile_Peter_Calvert.jpg“I’ve wanted to be an engineer ever since I watched Andy Green break the World Land Speed Record when I was nine,” he says. “I’ve always been into cars and motorsport and the idea of creating a supersonic car was fantastic.

“But cars are my hobby. I wanted a career that was just as exciting but different, so I read aerospace engineering at the University of Sheffield.

“By that time I’d become really interested in sustainability and the problems of the developing world. Some people complain about aviation and the amount of fuel it uses, but I’ve always believed that the best way to deal with an issue is to find solutions, not just moan about it.

“That’s one reason I joined Rolls-Royce. It’s a blue-chip, UK company that’s at the forefront of developing technologies to reduce the environmental impact of its products.

“My last placement on the Rolls-Royce graduate scheme was working on carbon fibre composites, within Composite Technology and Applications Ltd (CTAL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce created specifically to develop the technology, and I was based at the National Composites Centre in Bristol. The NCC was established as a UK catapult centre to promote development of composite materials across industrial sectors. Composites are very much a material of the future as they offer high strength but at very low weight, so when I was offered a permanent place on the team I jumped at it. Because they’re lighter and more durable than metals, composites will help us reduce the weight and improve the efficiency of our engines.

“I’ve been working on developing carbon fibre fan blades for the next generation of Rolls-Royce engines, including the UltraFan™. The blades are undergoing intensive testing right now and have already completed flight tests. It’s a great feeling to see something I’ve worked on from the drawing board finally take to the skies.

“The carbon fibre fan system could reduce weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft, the equivalent to carrying seven passengers and their luggage for free.

“The hotter a jet engine runs the more fuel-efficient it is and by using composites and other advanced technologies we expect the UltraFan engine to be 25 per cent more efficient than current models.

“I’ve been named on three new patent applications for my work at Rolls-Royce and I love the idea of ‘overcoming physics’ and making new things possible. Some of our latest manufacturing processes simply didn’t exist a decade ago.

“I’m now taking a doctorate in engineering, sponsored by Rolls-Royce and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Composites are going to be huge and I want to become a real technical expert in this emerging field.”