Transporting aero engines by air is quite a challenge on any day of the week. First, they can be huge. Second, they’re pretty heavy. Third, its a very valuable piece of high-tech equipment. Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000 engine, capable of providing up to 78,000lb of thrust, presented us with a particularly tricky hurdle to jump.
The heavyweight of aero engines like the Trent 1000
Rolls-Royce is a major manufacturer of aero engines for the airliner and corporate jet markets, famous for its Trent engine family. Powering more than 30 types of commercial aircraft, it has almost 13,000 engines in service around the world. Its Trent 1000 engine is the only engine optimised to power the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It’s the quietest and most efficient engine available for this family of aircraft, but it’s also the biggest: it has a fan diameter of 112 inches and weighs in at a whopping 5.5 tonnes.
Jeopardising flight safety without proper engine stand pallet
Designed to be transported whole, the engine nevertheless proved a problem when shipped by aircraft. Standard pallets bent easily under the weight of both the engine and the engine stand on which it was secured. This sent them crashing into the aircraft’s Cargo Loading System (CLS), endangering flight safety. So Hydro, the company responsible for Rolls-Royce’s engine stands, asked VRR to design and engineer an engine stand pallet strong enough to hold an engine and its stand of this size and weight (13.1 tonnes in total).
Little room to play with
The engine stand that the Trent 1000 engine is shipped on is based on a 196x125 inch pallet. This is a non-standard size in the aviation cargo industry, but it can still be loaded onto some types of airplane. Therefore we have given the pallet a three-letter ULD code, just as every other aircraft container or pallet, and called it a PZE engine stand pallet. The PZE pallet is mainly transported in a B747 or B777 freighter aircraft. The engine, including the transport frame, just fits through the door of these planes, leaving us with only 1 inch of headroom to construct a solid and rigid pallet. A tough challenge even for our specialised engineers.
Finding a heavy-duty engine stand pallet solution
To make the pallet as rigid as possible, we designed a sandwich construction: a top and bottom sheet with in between stiffeners/beams, similar to a conventional heavy-duty pallet. The complete engine stand can be bolted to the pallet, making it strong enough to hold the 5.5 tonne aero engine. We also gave the pallet a recessed part to function as a cut-out for the fan section, allowing it to fit through the loading doors.
New PZE engine stand pallet design approved
We’re pleased to announce that Hydro and Rolls-Royce agreed to this new pallet design after a successful trial, and it shall soon be in operation. Our next step is to get the pallet certified. We’ll keep you posted!
Interested in learning more about Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000 engine? You can find a infographic here. If you are intersted in our engine stand pallets, check out our product page or contact us.