Rolls-Royce turns to digital twins to improve jet engine efficiency

The multinational aerospace and defense company is helping its customers dramatically reduce the amount of carbon their planes produce and optimize maintenance schedules using predictive analytics.

Rolls-Royce turns to digital twins to improve jet engine efficiency
Rolls-Royce

Say the name Rolls-Royce and most people think of automobiles, but the British multinational aerospace and defense company has been out of the car business since Rolls-Royce Motors was sold off in the 1970s. Today, Rolls-Royce Holdings is the second-largest maker of aircraft engines in the world, with a foot in marine propulsion and energy as well. Its engines are used in fighter jets, business jets, and more than 50% of long-haul planes.

Now the company is deploying digital twin technology, analytics, and machine learning to dramatically reduce the amount of carbon its aircraft engines produce while also optimizing maintenance to help its customers keep their planes in the air longer.

“Rolls-Royce has been monitoring engines and charging per hour for at least 20 years,” says Stuart Hughes, chief information and digital officer at Rolls-Royce. “That part of the business isn’t new. But as we’ve evolved, we’ve begun to treat the engine as a singular engine. It’s much more about the personalization of that engine.”

Using its Intelligent Engine platform, the company monitors how each engine flies, the conditions in which it’s flying, and how the pilot uses it.

“We’re tailoring our maintenance regimes to make sure that we’re optimizing for the life an engine has, not the life the manual says it should have,” Hughes says. “It’s truly variable service looking at each engine as an individual engine.”

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