A Qantas passenger aircraft retired from commercial service this weekend to begin life as a Rolls-Royce flying testbed.
The firm say that the aircraft will be used to test current and future jet engine technology that will transform flight, reduce emissions and set new benchmarks for efficiency.
“The Boeing 747-400 – with the registration of VH-OJU – has been in service with Qantas for 20 years as a much-loved member of the Australian national carrier’s fleet. Over the course of its life, OJU has flown more than 70 million kilometres, which is the equivalent of almost 100 return trips to the moon. It has operated to dozens of countries and carried 2.5 million passengers, with each journey powered by four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.
As a flying testbed, it will be fitted with the latest testing capabilities and for the first time, will test engines which power both commercial and business aircraft. New systems will obtain better data faster than ever before, and technologies will be tested at higher altitudes and faster speeds. Flying testbeds are used to conduct altitude testing and monitor technologies in flight conditions.”
When complete, the aircraft will work alongside Rolls-Royce’s existing flying testbed, a Boeing 747-200, which has completed 285 test flights to date.
Gareth Hedicker, Rolls-Royce, Director of Development and Experimental Engineering, said:
“The Queen of the skies will become the jewel in the crown of our global test programmes. This is a significant investment that will expand our world-leading test capabilities even further and will allow us to obtain more flight test data than ever before. After transporting millions of passengers on this beloved aircraft for 20 years, we’re excited to power it into the future.”