Rolls-Royce returned to the private
sector in 1987 and expanded through a series
of mergers and acquisitions. As part of this
growth, Rolls-Royce acquired the Allison Engine
Company based in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1995.
The new company, Rolls-Royce Corporation, allowed
Rolls-Royce to offer engines in virtually all
market segments, from helicopters to the largest
Today one of the company’s most successful
products is the AE3007 turbofan which powers
Embraer 30-50 seat regional jets, Embraer Legacy
corporate aircraft and Cessna Citation X business
The acquisition of Allison gave Rolls-Royce
a significant U.S. manufacturing presence which
further increased in 1999 when Rolls-Royce took
full control of the oil and gas venture Cooper
Rolls and acquired the rotating compression
equipment interests of Cooper Energy Services
That same year, the company acquired National
Airmotive, a major aero engine repair and overhaul
facility in California. Finally, the acquisition
of Vickers plc transformed the company into
a global leader in marine propulsion and equipment.
Now in the 21st century, Rolls-Royce continues
to be a leader in providing power for air, land
and sea applications, fulfilling the early vision
of Charles Rolls and Henry Royce - and the terms
of the original company charter.
|The Merlin also facilitated Rolls-Royce
entry into Canada. In 1947, Rolls-Royce Canada
began operating from a small office at Montreal’s
Dorval Airport, supporting the Merlin installed
on the four-engine North Star operated by Trans
Canada Airlines and the Royal Canadian Air Force
air transport command.
Rolls-Royce entered the civil aviation market
in 1953 with the Dart engine in the Vickers Viscount.
The Dart was the first gas turbine engine universally
accepted by the airline industry. Subsequently,
the Avon-powered Comet became the first turbojet
to enter transatlantic service and in 1960, the
Conway engine in the DC8 and Boeing 707 became
the first turbofan to enter airline service.
With the emergence of wide-body airliners in the
late 1960s, Rolls-Royce launched the RB211 for
the Lockheed L1011 Tri-Star. Rolls-Royce Canada
expanded to support this engine and subsequently
became the first North American airmotive to provide
full support for the Tay engine, which powers
the Gulfstream IV, the Fokker F100 and the Boeing
727QF. (Today, Rolls-Royce Canada provides repair
and overhaul services for various engine types
as well as designs, develops and assembles industrial
Early problems with the RB211 forced the company
into bankruptcy - and ultimately, state ownership
– and led to the transition of the motor
car business into a separate entity. In spite
of these early difficulties, the three-shaft turbofan
concept of the RB211 is the heart of the Rolls-Royce
family of large turbofan engines.
|Royce’s dim view of the aviation
business persisted until war intervened and convinced
him otherwise. World War I saw the development
of the first Rolls-Royce aero engines,
the Eagle and the Falcon. While assembled in the
UK, many U.S. suppliers manufactured components
for these engines.
In 1919, the company incorporated as Rolls-Royce
of America and acquired its first US manufacturing
plant in Springfield, Massachusetts. Production
began the following year. By 1923, Rolls-Royce
presence in the U.S. was substantial, with offices
in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland,
Hartford and Troy, NY, in addition to the original
office in New York City. The company was further
represented in 16 cities across North America.
of America Inc. manufactured
nearly 3000 Silver Ghosts and Phantoms before
succumbing to the Depression. To this day, Springfield
is the only place outside England that Rolls-Royce
cars have ever been built.
Royce began developing the famous Merlin engine
before his death in 1933. In 1940, the Merlin
powered the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine
Spitfire in the Battle of Britain. Merlins were
also manufactured in the US, courtesy of technology
transfer and a licensing agreement with the
Packard Company. (The Packard Merlin was the
powerplant for the P51 “Mustang”
fighter, regarded by many as the best fighter
of its time.) By V-E Day, the partnership had
produced over 55,500 Merlins – more than
a third of the total production worldwide.
Demand for the Merlin during World War II transformed
Rolls-Royce from a small company into a major
contender in aero propulsion. In 1944, the company
began developing the gas turbine engine and
almost immediately took the lead in industry.
In fact, the first aircraft gas turbine engines
manufactured in the U.S. were Rolls-Royce designs
built under license.
|In 1884, a self-taught engineer
named Henry Royce established a small business
in Britain with only 70 pounds (approximately
$100) – 50 of which were borrowed. Initially,
Royce Limited produced only electrical motors
and generators, eventually building its first
motor car in 1904. That same year, Royce met Charles
Rolls whose company sold quality cars in London.
At their first meeting, Royce took Rolls for a
spin in the car. Legend has it that as he climbed
aboard, Rolls asked Royce to “start her
up.” Royce replied, “My dear fellow,
she’s already running!” Soon after,
they reached an agreement that Royce Limited would
manufacture a range of cars to be sold exclusively
by CS Rolls & Company. The success of these
Rolls-Royce cars led to the formation of the Rolls-Royce
Company just two years later – in 1906.
The charter included a provision that the company
should produce engines for use “on land
or water or in the air.” That same year,
Rolls-Royce launched the Silver Ghost - immediately
hailed as “the best car in the world”
- and opened its first U.S. office, a sales office
on Broadway in New York City.
Meanwhile, Charles Rolls had been introduced to
the Wright brothers and become passionate about
flight. Until his untimely death in 1910, in the
crash of his Wright Flyer, Rolls worked hard to
persuade his partner to venture into the aviation
business. Royce however continued to concentrate
on the design and continual improvement of the