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Our Sixth Formers enjoyed a unique insight into how the World’s most advanced commercial aeroplanes get off the ground when Mark Wainwright, Chief Engineer on the Rolls Royce Trent XWB, engine visited Trent on Wednesday 6 November.
Science, engineering and economics were all the hot topics of the lecture as Mr Wainwright, who is based at Rolls Royce in Derby, brought to life the thrill of seeing hundreds of tonnes of fuel and metal taking to the air for the first time, powered by an engine that he had helped to design.
The Trent XWB engine, the latest in the Rolls Royce Trent series named in recognition of its Midlands origins, is the most efficient large aero engine in the world, delivered as the powerplant for the brand new Airbus A350 XWB airliner.
Each Trent XWB high-pressure turbine blade works in a high-pressure turbine, where the gas temperature is at least 200°C above the melting point of the blade's alloy. Every time the plane takes off this single blade develops the same horsepower as a Formula 1 racing car, yet can travel 10 million miles before it needs replacing!
Mr Wainwright also talked about the responsibility of millions of pounds of investment, and billions of pounds of potential future profit, being at stake.
David Tidy, Assistant Head (Curriculum), said: “For the economists present there was much to learn about decades long, stable business plans and income streams. Meanwhile the scientists were treated to demonstrations of turbine technology and the intricacies of blade design where the materials are run at temperatures higher than their melting point!
“The lecture was greatly appreciated by the students and discussions continued the next day in the Physics department, where many students will soon go on to read science and engineering at universities around the country.”
Mr Wainwright’s visit was part of our Arts and Speakers Programme, which sees a wide range of inspirational guests, from the worlds of fashion, politics, sport, media, business and adventure, plus more academic offerings from medicine, theology, engineering and history, share their experiences and stories with students. The programme aims to develop young minds to be curious, interested and open to fresh and different ideas.
So far this term former Downing Street Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, has addressed our pupils, while among other guest speakers set for this academic year include British born adventurer, author and motivational speaker, Rob Lilwall, whose most recent adventure, a 5,000 km walk on foot through Mongolia and China to Hong Kong, was completed in 2012.