Ottawa’s MDS to build largest engine test facility in the world for Rolls-Royce

MDS
MDS Aero Support chief executive John Jastremski. File photo.
Editor's Note

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Rolls-Royce as an automotive manufacturer. The error has been corrected.

MDS Aero Support is putting made-in-Ottawa innovation to the test in the United Kingdom, where the firm recently announced it will partner with Rolls-Royce to build a testing facility for the aerospace manufacturer’s biggest engines.

The site itself will be the largest of its kind in the world, according to MDS, with a footprint of 1.85 acres in Derby, England. Inside, the two firms will be testing the kinds of engines that power Airbus and Boeing jets. The facility, expected to be completed in 2020, is being designed to handle Rolls-Royce’s next-generation engines for years to come.

MDS facility
A rendering of the newly-announced Rolls-Royce facility in Derby. Provided.

MDS is the prime contractor and responsible for the facility’s development from design to construction. It’ll also supply all of the test and measurement systems.

The Ottawa-based firm says it worked closely with the National Research Council of Canada to design the systems for this facility. After working with the NRC for the past two years on aeroacoustic research, MDS president and CEO John Jastremski said in a statement that the federal R&D hub was “critical” to developing a solution to meet Rolls-Royce’s demands.

Last September, Jastremski told OBJ that having the NRC in its backyard was part of the reason the aerospace support firm is located in Ottawa at all. At that time, the firm was pulling in annual revenues of $80 million with 220 employees in the south end of the city and 30 more abroad.

The Rolls-Royce announcement didn’t come with a dollar figure, but the firm told OBJ last year that its test facilities usually run between $50 million and $100 million in costs. Given that this one will be the biggest in the world, it’s fair to assume it’s on the higher end of that scale.