This project was developed and produced by Europrop International for the Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft. It is the most powerful single-rotation turboprop – a jet engine in which a turbine is used to drive a propeller – only other versions are larger. There was a collaboration between Rolls-Royce, MTU, Snecma and ITP to develop the engine, to be used, when finished, for peacekeeping missions abroad.
Naturally, a project of such scale required first a prototype engine to be built which would allow a trial installation of the engine, mounting points and mechanical and electrical systems connection. Ogle were tasked to create an engine that would have the same geometric envelope as the final parts. This including allowing for the correct dimensional tolerances associated with all the key features and interfaces. A strong chassis was required to carry the weight of the varying parts that would be mounted to it and not deflect when moved. Ogle added four aluminium box sections that were bolted together using aluminium plates. This ensures that key features and multiple interfaces could be mounted with no compromise to structural integrity.
The main chassis was longer at each end so it could be mounted on legs, which were set out for clearance stability. The matting aces were simplified to make machining faster, as it then only required bolting or fixing with the corresponding part for correct positioning. The majority of the work was completed using CNC machines, to deliver the pin-point accuracy and tolerances required for the project.
It also enabled the team to meet the extremely tight lead times. Ogle employed a variety of processes including CNC machining model board parts. Complex parts such as the ducting were 3D printed using the SLS process as this created an accurate space model of those parts.
It’s fascinating to take a look back at a project that we worked to pioneer. Having successfully completed the prototype, Rolls-Royce were contracted to develop and produce more than 750 engines for the A400M fleets of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Turkey, Belgium and Luxembourg, and additional engines for export customers.