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Rolls-Royce Group plc
Type Public limited company
Founded 1906 (as Rolls-Royce Limited)
1987 (privatised as plc)
Founder(s) Charles Rolls and Henry Royce
Headquarters City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
Key people Simon Robertson (Chairman)
John Rishton (CEO)
Industry Aerospace & Defence
Products Civil & military aero engines
Marine propulsion systems
Power generation equipment
Revenue (turnover) £11,085 million (2010)[1]
Operating income £1,130 million (2010)[1]
Net income £543 million (2010)[1]
Employees 40,000 (2011)[2]

Rolls-Royce Group plc (LSERR.) is a global power systems company headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom.[3] It is the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines (behind General Electric),[4][5] and also has major businesses in the marine propulsion and energy sectors. Through its defence-related activities it is the world's 23rd-largest defence contractor.[6] It had an announced order book of £58.3 billion at 31 December 2009.[7]

It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. As of August 2010, it was the 32nd largest company on the FTSE, with a market capitalisation of £10.24 billion.[8]


Close up of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine

1906 to 1971

Main article: Rolls-Royce Limited

Rolls-Royce Limited was founded in 1906 by Henry Royce and Charles Rolls, and produced its first aircraft engine in 1914.

Around half the aircraft engines used by the Allies in World War I were made by Rolls-Royce. By the late 1920s, aero engines made up most of Rolls-Royce's business. The last design in which Henry Royce was involved was the Merlin aero engine, which came out in 1935; Royce had died in 1933. This was a development subsequent to the R engine, which had powered a record-breaking Supermarine S.6B seaplane to almost 400 mph in the 1931 Schneider Trophy. The legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin is revered as a British icon.[9] The Merlin powered many World War II aircraft: the British Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, De Havilland Mosquito (twin-engined), Avro Lancaster (4-engine); it also transformed the American P-51 Mustang into one of the best fighters of its time, its Merlin engine built by Packard under licence. The early Merlins - Rolls-Royce piston engines were named after birds of prey - were used by the British Royal Air Force in the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire that won the Battle of Britain. The Merlin engine is often considered to be one of the main factors in winning the war for the Allies.[10] Over 160,000 Merlin engines were produced.

In the post-World War II period Rolls-Royce made significant advances in gas turbine engine design and manufacture. The Dart and Tyne turboprop engines were particularly important, enabling airlines to cut journey times within several continents, whilst jet airliners were introduced on longer services. The Dart engine was used in the Argosy, Avro 748 (and its military variant the Andover), Fokker F27 Friendship, Handley Page Herald and Vickers Viscount aircraft, whilst the more powerful Tyne powered the Atlantic, Transall C-160 and the Vickers Vanguard. Many of these turboprops are still in service.

Rolls-Royce turbine engines had traditionally borne numeric designations during development and then were assigned the name of a British river on delivery. The use of river names was introduced with the earliest Rolls jet engines to reflect their nature: a steady flow of power rather than the pulses of a piston engine. RB stands for "Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick",[11] the latter a major ex-Rover plant north of Burnley. This facility was bought by Rolls-Royce when it traded production of tank engines (the Merlin based Rolls-Royce Meteor) for production of the first Whittle turbine engines.

Amongst the jet engines of this period was the RB163 Spey which powers the Hawker Siddeley Trident, BAC 1-11, Grumman Gulfstream II and Fokker F28. Military versions of the Spey powered the Buccaneer S2 for the RAF, the Phantom F4K and F4M, and the Nimrod. The Spey was licence built by Allison Engine Company as the TF41 for the A-7 Corsair II. Other types of military engines produced in the second half of the 20th Century include the Rolls-Royce Avon and Armstrong Siddeley Viper; these engines powered many of the British Aircraft of this period.

Also of this period was the Conway, a low (by today's standards) bypass ratio turbofan which was used on some Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s, and all Vickers VC10s as well as on the MkII variant of the Handley Page Victor bomber for the RAF.

During the late 1950s and '60s there was a significant rationalisation of the British aero-engine manufacturers, culminating in the merger of Rolls-Royce and Bristol Siddeley in 1966. Bristol Siddeley, which had itself resulted from the merger of Armstrong Siddeley and Bristol in 1959, and with its principal factory at Filton, near Bristol, had a strong base in military engines, including the Rolls-Royce Olympus, which was chosen for Concorde.

Nationalisation and separation

Having been selected as the sole engine supplier for the Lockheed L-1011 (TriStar), Rolls-Royce committed heavily to the RB211 engine, but its development was hampered by considerable technical problems and on 4 February 1971 Rolls-Royce went into administrative receivership. To save the company, Edward Heath's government nationalised it. The automotive division was separated from the aircraft engine division in 1973 as Rolls-Royce Motors and sold to Vickers. A side-effect of this affair was a change in accounting regulations to forbid the capitalisation of expenditure on research. This practice had resulted in Rolls-Royce massively overstating its assets, thus disguising its financial difficulties until it was too late to seek effective help.

Privatisation and expansion

Rolls-Royce plc was privatised in 1987 under the government of Margaret Thatcher. The 1980s saw the introduction of a policy to offer an engine fitment on a much wider range of civil aircraft types, with the company's engines now powering 17 different airliners (and their variants) compared to General Electric's 14 and Pratt & Whitney's 10.

In 1988, Rolls-Royce acquired Northern Engineering Industries (NEI), a group of heavy engineering companies mainly associated with electrical generation and power management, based in the North East of England. The group included Clarke Chapman (cranes), Reyrolle (now part of Siemens) and Parsons (now part of Siemens steam turbines). The company was renamed Rolls-Royce Industrial Power Group. It was sold off piecemeal over the next decade as the company re-focused on its core aero-engine operations following the recession of the early 1990s.

In 1990 BMW and Rolls-Royce established the BMW Rolls-Royce joint venture to produce the BR700 range of engines for regional and corporate jets, the most recent[when?] of which is the newly announced BR725 powering the Gulfstream G650. BMW subsequently withdrew from the company, and Rolls-Royce took full control of it in 2000, renaming it Rolls-Royce Deutschland.

Allison acquisition

On 21 November 1994, Rolls-Royce announced its intention to acquire the Allison Engine Company,[12] an American manufacturer of gas turbines and components for aviation, industrial and marine engines; the two companies had a technical association dating back to the Second World War. Rolls-Royce had previously tried to buy the company when General Motors sold it in 1993, but GM opted for a management buyout instead for $370 million. Owing to Allison's involvement in classified and export restricted technology, the 1994 acquisition was subject to investigation to determine the national security implications.[13] On 27 March 1995 the US Department of Defense announced that the "deal between Allison Engine Co. and Rolls-Royce does not endanger national security."[14] Rolls-Royce was, however, obliged to set up a proxy board to manage Allison and had also to set up a separate company, Allison Advanced Development Company, Inc., to manage classified programmes "that involve leading-edge technologies". In 2000 this restriction was replaced by a more flexible Special Security Arrangement.[15]

The Allison acquisition, at $525 million (equivalent to £328 million),[12] brought four new engine types into the Rolls-Royce civil engine portfolio on seven platforms and several light aircraft applications. Allison is now known as Rolls-Royce Corporation, part of Rolls-Royce North America.

In 1996 Rolls-Royce and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding specifying the Trent 900 as the engine of choice for the then A3XX, now called the Airbus A380.

1999 acquisitions

Rolls-Royce spent £1.063 billion on acquisitions in 1999. These were interests of Cooper Energy Services (with the effect of making the Cooper Rolls joint venture a wholly owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce), Vickers, National Airmotive Corporation and BMW's share of BMW Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce acquired Vickers plc for its marine businesses. Vickers had expanded this part of its business in the period leading up to the purchase, acquiring Kamewa, a manufacturer of waterjets and controlled pitch propellers, in 1996, Brown Brothers, steering gear and stabilisers manufacturer and Ulstein, a major marine propulsion and engineering company, in 1998. Rolls-Royce sold Vickers Defence Systems (the other major Vickers area of business) to Alvis plc in 2002 which then became Alvis Vickers, then the largest armoured vehicle company in the UK.

Rolls-Royce has established a leading position in the corporate and regional airline sector through the development of the Tay engine, the Allison acquisition and the consolidation of the BMW Rolls-Royce joint venture. In 1999 BMW Rolls-Royce was renamed Rolls-Royce Deutschland and became a 100% owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc.

Optimized Systems and Solutions (formerly known as Data Systems & Solutions) was founded in 1999 as a joint venture between Rolls-Royce plc and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). In early 2006, SAIC exited the joint venture agreement, making Rolls-Royce plc the sole owner.

21st century

On 6 April 2004, Boeing announced that it had selected both Rolls-Royce and General Electric to power its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Rolls-Royce submitted the Trent 1000, a further development of that series. GE's offering is the GENX, a development of the GE90.

On 13 June 2004, Rolls-Royce were awarded a £110m deal with the Ministry of Defence to supply engines for its C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for the next 5 years.[16]

In July 2006, Rolls-Royce reached an agreement to supply a new version of the Trent for the revised Airbus A350 (XWB) jetliner. Although details have yet to be released, it is likely that the so-called Trent XWB will be significantly larger than the Trent 1700, basically a throttle-push of the Trent 1000 intended for the original A350 proposal.

In October 2006, Rolls-Royce suspended production of its Trent 900 engine because of delays by Airbus on the delivery of the A380 superjumbo. Rolls-Royce announced in October 2007 that production of the Trent 900 had been re-started after a twelve month suspension caused by delays to the A380.[17] The plant in Derby, UK employs 11,000 workers and will continue to produce engines for Bombardier and Boeing, including those for the new 787 series and other Airbus aircraft such as the A330 and A340.

On the military side, Rolls-Royce, in co-operation with other European manufacturers, has been a major contractor for the RB199 which in several variants powers the Panavia Tornado, and also for the EJ200 engine for the Eurofighter Typhoon. Two modified RB199 engines also powered the EAP demonstrator which evolved into the Typhoon. Rolls-Royce has matured the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem invented by Lockheed Martin for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35 Lightning II to production level, planned to be produced in significant numbers.

At the 2005 Paris Air Show, Rolls-Royce secured in excess of $1 billion worth of orders. The firm received $800m worth of orders from Air China to supply its 20 Airbus A330 jets.[18]

On 18 June 2007, Rolls-Royce announced at the 2007 Paris Air Show that it had signed its biggest ever contract with Qatar Airways for the Trent XWB to power 80 A350 XWBs on order from Airbus worth $5.6 billion at list prices.[19] On 11 November 2007, another large contract was announced at the Dubai Airshow from Emirates Airline for Trent XWBs to power 50 A350-900 and 20 A350-1000 aircraft with 50 option rights. Due to be delivered from 2014, the order is potentially worth up to 8.4 billion US Dollars at list prices, including options.[20]

During the 2011 Avalon Airshow, Rolls-Royce faced questions concerning incidents with its Trent 900 Turbofan used to power Airbus A380 aircraft, the latest of which caused a partial power loss during a Qantas flight on 24 February 2011. RR stated that they have dedicated 350 engineers to trace the cause of a mid-air explosion in one of its Trent 900 engines on Qantas flight QF32 which caused the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Singapore in November 2010.[21]

On 9 March 2011, Rolls-Royce and Daimler AG announced their intention to make a $4.2 billion public tender offer for 100 per cent of the share capital of Tognum AG, to be carried out by a 50:50 joint venture company.[22] If the bid is successful the joint venture company, which will also incorporate Rolls-Royce's existing Bergen engine business, is planned to be listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.[22] Tognum is the owner of MTU Friedrichshafen, a leading high-speed industrial and marine diesel engine manufacturer. Rolls-Royce presently only manufactures medium-speed gas and diesel engines through its Bergen subsidiary.


Rolls-Royce's aerospace business makes commercial and military gas turbine engines for military, civil, and corporate aircraft customers worldwide. In the United States, the company makes engines for regional and corporate jets, helicopters, and turboprop aircraft. Rolls-Royce also constructs and installs power generation systems. Its core gas turbine technology has created one of the broadest product ranges of aero-engines in the world, with 50,000 engines in service with 500 airlines, 2,400 corporate and utility operators and more than 100 armed forces, powering both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Rolls-Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd (a subsidiary company) manufactures and tests nuclear reactors for Royal Naval submarines.


Rolls-Royce Trent 900 on the prototype Airbus A380. This aircraft carries four engines.

The Rolls-Royce LiftSystem coupled to an F135 turbofan at the Paris Air Show in 2007

Diagram of LiftSystem components and airflow


  • Rolls-Royce Avon
  • Rolls-Royce Viper
  • Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593


  • Rolls-Royce AE 3007
  • Rolls-Royce BR700
  • Rolls-Royce Conway
  • Rolls-Royce RB162
  • Rolls-Royce RB211
  • Rolls-Royce RB282
  • Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour
  • Rolls-Royce Pegasus
  • Turbo-Union RB199
  • Rolls-Royce Spey
  • Rolls-Royce Tay (turbofan)
  • Rolls-Royce Trent
  • Eurojet EJ200
  • General Electric/Rolls-Royce F136
  • International Aero Engines V2500


  • Rolls-Royce AE 2100
  • Rolls-Royce Gem
  • Rolls-Royce Model 250
  • Rolls-Royce RR300
  • Rolls-Royce RR500
  • Rolls-Royce T406/AE 1107C-Liberty
  • Rolls-Royce T56
  • Europrop TP400-D6 (as part of Europrop International)
  • MTR390 (with MTU and Turbomeca)
  • Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322
  • LHTEC T800 (with Honeywell)


STX Europe dockyard where Rolls-Royce plant is located at Rauma, Finland

Gas turbines

  • AG9140
  • MT30
  • MT50
  • RR4500
  • Spey
  • Olympus TM3B
  • Tyne RM1A
  • WR-21

Diesel engines

  • Bergen B series
  • Bergen C series
  • Bergen K series
  • Crossley Pielstick


  • Kamewa and Bird-Johnson Waterjets
  • Kamewa Tunnel thruster
  • MerMaid pod propulsion
  • Ulstein Aquamaster Azimuth thruster


  • Nato Submarine Rescue System
  • PWR1 Reactor
  • PWR2 Reactor
  • Zebra (battery)

Hydrodynamic Bearings

  • Michell Bearings


  • Brown Brothers Legacy Stabilizers
  • Brown Brothers Neptune or VM Stabilizers
  • Brown Brothers Aquarius Stabilizers

Energy – oil & gas

Gas turbines

  • Rolls-Royce 501
  • Industrial Avon
  • Industrial RB211
  • Industrial Trent


  • Barrel centrifugal compressor
  • Pipeline centrifugal compressor

Energy – power generation

Gas turbines

  • Rolls-Royce 501
  • Industrial RB211
  • Industrial Trent

Reciprocating engines

  • Bergen B series
  • Bergen K series

Distributed generation systems

  • Field Electrical Power Source (FEPS)
  • APU 2000 vehicle power unit
  • Marine generator sets
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cell

See also

Companies portal
Cars portal
  • Aerospace industry in the United Kingdom
  • Power by the Hour



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Preliminary Results 2010
  2. Rolls Royce: Our people
  3. "Rolls-Royce headquarters". Rolls-Royce Group plc. Retrieved on 28 September 2010.
  4. "Rolls-Royce Wins $2 Billion Air China, Ethiopian Airlines Deals", Bloomberg (14 November 2009). Retrieved on 8 September 2010. 
  5. "GE Urges Lawmakers to Fund Backup Engine for F-35", Bloomberg Businessweek (27 May 2010). Retrieved on 8 September 2010. 
  6. "Top 100 Defense Contractors 2009", Defense News. Retrieved on 29 July 2010. 
  7. "Company overview". Rolls-Royce Group plc. Retrieved on 18 August 2010.
  8. "FTSE All-Share Index Ranking". Retrieved on 12 August 2010.
  9. The Merlin Engine
  10. Merlin engine Rolls Royce Merlin XX
  11. Gunston 1989, p. 146.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Lazonick, William & Prencipe, Andrea. Sustaining the Innovation Process: The Case of Rolls-Royce plc page 18. Retrieved: 18 September 2010.
  13. Ashbourne, Alex. Opening the US Defence Market Centre for European Reform page 6, October 2000. Retrieved: 18 September 2010.
  14. DoD is satisfied that deal between Allison Engine Co. and Rolls Royce does not endanger national security
  15. Lorell et al Going Global? page 175, RAND Corporation, 2002. Retrieved: 18 September 2010.
  16. "Penny Shares Online" (10 July 2006). Retrieved on 13 July 2006.
  17. "Rolls-Royce settles into a launch groove for A380", Flight International (15 October 2007). Retrieved on 17 October 2007. 
  18. BBC (20 July 2005). "Air China at Paris Air Show", BBC News. Retrieved on 13 July 2006. 
  19. "Rolls-Royce inks biggest-ever sale", Flight International (19 June 2007). Retrieved on 20 June 2007. 
  20. "Emirates places $8.4bn order for Rolls-Royce Trent XWB". Retrieved on 14 November 2007.[dead link]
  21. Heasley, Andrew (3 March 2011). "Rolls-Royce speaks out after more Qantas engine problems", The Age (Australia). Retrieved on 9 March 2011. 
  22. 22.0 22.1 Arnott, Sarah (10 March 2011). "Rolls-Royce and Daimler bid €3.2bn for Tognum", The Independent (UK). Retrieved on 10 March 2011. 


  • Gunston, Bill. Development of Piston Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 2006. ISBN 0-7509-4478-1
  • Peter Pugh, (2000), Icon Books, The Magic of a Name: The Rolls-Royce Story The First 40 Years. ISBN 1 84046 151 9
  • Peter Pugh, (2001), Icon Books, The Magic of a Name: The Rolls-Royce Story Part 2 The Power Behind the Jets. ISBN 1 84046 284 1
  • Peter Pugh, (2002), Icon Books, The Magic of a Name: The Rolls-Royce Story Part 3 A Family of Engines. ISBN 1 84046 405 4

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