FAG bearings selected for Boeing 787 aeroengines

06 September 2007

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FAG Aerospace, the Schaeffler Group's Aerospace division, has secured long-term supply contracts worth several million euros with Rolls Royce and General Electric for supporting the engines that will power Boeing's new 787 airliner.

Rolling bearings from FAG Aerospace will play a key role in the fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce and General Electric engines for Boeing's new 787 'Dreamliner' long-haul passenger airliner.

Boeing's 787 is a project of vital importance for the future, and the first Dreamliner prototype was recently introduced to the public in Seattle, USA. This was also an important event for the two Schaeffler Group subsidiaries, FAG Aerospace GmbH and FAG Aerospace Inc Canada, as both engine types approved for the new long-haul airliner rely on FAG Aerospace's rolling bearing expertise.

The entire aircraft is designed to consume as little energy as possible. Franz-Josef Ebert, Head of Sales and Product Development at FAG Aerospace, states: "We had to develop a completely new design for the main shaft and gearbox bearings. This is due to the bearings' high integration level. For instance, functions and adjacent components were integrated, as well as vibration damping mechanisms and housing parts. Furthermore, the bearing systems use innovative high-heat-resistant steels. The size of the bearings, as well as their complex geometry, also represented a challenge for production. When developing the bearing systems, our primary goal was to achieve low weight and high-performance capability, together with high reliability. That was a particular challenge for our engineers and for production at our two manufacturing sites in Schweinfurt and Stratford."

Fuel-efficient engines

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is claimed to consume 20 per cent less fuel than comparable aircraft due to its improved aerodynamics, better operating systems and lighter materials. In addition, the new GEnx engine from General Electric and the Trent 1000 engine from Rolls-Royce also play a critical role in ensuring the aircraft is more fuel-efficient. The high-performance, weight-saving engine bearing supports also play a key role in both engines.

FAG Aerospace became involved in the development of the engine bearing concepts as early as 2005. The first prototype bearings were manufactured in 2006 and supplied to General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Results of the first engine test runs, which took place in Autumn 2006, were extremely positive. The civil aviation authorities' approval process for both engines will be completed by the end of 2007. First test flights for the Dreamliner are scheduled to take place within the next few months. In the summer of 2008 the first aircraft will be delivered.

Series production of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine bearings will start in Schweinfurt, Germany, while the bearings for the General Electric GEnx will initially be manufactured in Stratford, Canada, then in Schweinfurt from 2009.

The Boeing 787 is already selling well – more than 600 are already on order - making the aircraft one of the most successful launches in the history of civil aviation. The Dreamliner is a medium-sized long-haul airliner. Depending on its cabin furnishings, the first version seats 210 to 250 passengers. Its cruising range will be up to 15,200km. In 2010 a stretched variant for up to 290 passengers, as well as a short-haul version with a maximum range of 5,650km for 330 passengers, will be launched.

The Schaeffler Group develops and manufactures special bearing supports for the aviation industry under its two brands FAG and Barden. Schaeffler Group says that almost all modern passenger aircraft incorporate FAG bearing technology.

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