AeroTEC to Convert Qantas Airways 747-400

 In Moses Lake Flight Test Center (AFTC)

AeroTEC to Convert Qantas Airways 747-400

Flying Testbed for Rolls-Royce Next-Gen Engine Testing

Rolls-Royce selects AeroTEC to modify, build and validate their new flying testbed at the AeroTEC Flight Test Center in Moses Lake, Washington

SEATTLE and MOSES LAKE, Wash., (October 15, 2019)— AeroTEC announced today it has been selected by Rolls-Royce to modify, build and validate a new 747-400 flying testbed. The aircraft, a retired Qantas Airways airliner that flew passengers for more than 20 years, was purchased by Rolls-Royce as part of a $70 million investment in the development of new engine technologies.

Rolls-Royce took delivery of the “Queen of the Skies” airplane at AeroTEC’s flight test center in Moses Lake, Wash., US, after it flew from Qantas’ home port of Sydney, Australia. During an extensive two-year transformation, AeroTEC engineers and technicians will convert the Boeing 747-400 from a commercial aircraft with 364 passenger seats to a state-of-the-art flying testbed equipped with extensive instrumentation and systems to take sophisticated measurements of engine performance in flight.

This contract award will allow AeroTEC to expand its facilities and create 40 additional jobs in Moses Lake, validating AeroTEC’s vision that Moses Lake is the right place for aerospace investment.

As a flying testbed, the airplane will be fitted with the latest testing capabilities and for the first time, will test engines that power both commercial and business aircraft. New systems will obtain better data faster than ever before, and technologies will be tested at higher altitudes and faster speeds. Flying testbeds are used to conduct altitude testing and monitor technologies in flight conditions.

“The AeroTEC team is proud to partner with Rolls-Royce to modify their new flying testbed,” said Lee Human, AeroTEC president and founder. “This testbed will enable the development of new, highly-advanced engine technologies designed to increase efficiency and minimize environmental impacts. Our engineering, modification, and test teams in Seattle and Moses Lake are already hard at work preparing to bring Rolls-Royce’s vision to reality.”

“With AeroTEC’s engineering capabilities, the Queen of the Skies will become the jewel in the crown of our global test programmes,” said Gareth Hedicker, Rolls-Royce, director of Development and Experimental Engineering. “This is a significant investment that will expand our world-leading test capabilities even further and will allow us to obtain more flight test data than ever before. After transporting millions of passengers on this beloved aircraft for 20 years, we’re excited to power it into the future.”

When complete, the transformed aircraft will work alongside Rolls-Royce’s existing flying testbed, a Boeing 747-200 which has completed 285 test flights to date.

About AeroTEC
AeroTEC develops, tests and certifies new aircraft products using innovative and scalable development, test and certification techniques to help large and small aerospace companies everywhere bring their products to market quickly, easily and efficiently. For more information, please visit

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc
Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers. Annual underlying revenue was £15 billion in 2018, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. In 2018, Rolls-Royce invested £1.4 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 29 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research. The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.