A state-of-the-art electric plane developed by Rolls Royce has completed a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system ahead of flight testing.
Known as the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ the aircraft successfully passed the test on a UK runway and was powered by a 500hp electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology.
This combination of electric power and an advanced battery system is expected to power the plane to over 300mph, which would set a new world speed record for electric flight. The first flight is now planned for Spring 2021, with the world-famous motor company eventually planning to launch an urban mobility aircraft or air taxi.
The aircraft is part of a programme known as ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight), which also includes electric motor and controller manufacturer, YASA, and aviation start-up electro flight.
Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, stated:
“Electrification of flight is an important part of our sustainability strategy as we aim for net zero carbon by 2050. Taxiing of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is an incredible milestone for the ACCEL team as we progress to first flight and the world-record attempt later this year.”
“For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system, this is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology. This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market.”
Half of the project is funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Gary Elliot, CEO of the company discussed their involvement in the project:
“The aims of ACCEL align with the long-term objectives of the ATI strategy: to fund exciting and innovative technology development that secures a lead for the UK in next-generation zero-emission propulsion, and to continue to support highly-skilled jobs and generate economic return for the benefit of the UK. Our congratulations to the ACCEL team for reaching this latest milestone against a very challenging backdrop.”