Digital engine concept gets smart


Rolls-Royce is going into the intelligence business. The engine maker revealed its Intelligent Engine vision at the Singapore air show last week.

Rolls-Royce says an intelligent engine will be ‘connected, contextually aware and comprehending,’ which will make it more reliable and efficient.

  • Connected means communication with other engines, the manufacturer and its operator, with two-way flow of information between these. An intelligent engine could receive information from other engines on the same aircraft or around the world, advising of operating issues. Weather stations, flight plans, and airline operations departments could also communicate with such an engine, as could simulated ‘digital twin’ engines.
  • A contextually aware engine would use sensors to determine its operating environment, which would enable it to adjust its operating settings.
  • A comprehending engine would learn from its own experiences and from its network of peers to adjust its settings and achieve best performance. For example, it could use information from other engines to choose the best operating settings for take-offs from certain hot and high airports.

Intelligent engines could conceivably determine their own maintenance requirements and possibly carry some of these out themselves.

Rolls-Royce says the Intelligent Engine vision is based on a belief that the worlds of product and service have become so closely connected that they are now inseparable. The company began this journey in the 1960s with its lease and service programs for turbojet engines, which earned the nickname ‘Power by the Hour’.