in Air Transport

Rolls-Royce unveils all-electric plane

Posted 20 December 2019 · Add Comment

Rolls-Royce’s ambitions to build the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft have taken a step forward with the unveiling of the plane at Gloucestershire Airport, UK.

 

Work will now begin on integrating the ground-breaking electrical propulsion system to enable the zero-emissions plane to make a run for the record books with a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH) in late Spring 2020.

The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL – short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” and is a key part of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to champion electrification. The project involves a host of partners including electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and the aviation start- up Electroflight. Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The UK has a proud heritage and enviable worldwide reputation for advances in aviation technology. The electrification of flight has the potential to revolutionise the way we travel and transform aviation for decades to come – ensuring we can travel worldwide while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Backed by Government funding, Rolls-Royce is pushing the boundaries even further, and this new innovation could become the fastest electric plane ever.”

Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane. This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low carbon global economy.”

The ionBird test airframe, named after the electrical technology propelling the aircraft, was also unveiled. The ionBird will be used to test the propulsion system before it is fully integrated into the plane. Planned tests over the next couple of months include running the propulsion system up to full power as well as key airworthiness checks. 

“The ATI is proud to partner with Rolls-Royce on the ACCEL programme because we believe it will lead to exciting new developments in electric propulsion. One of the priorities of the ATI is looking at how aviation can be more sustainable, and ACCEL will be a critical step in our understanding of how electric propulsion fits into that broader aspiration for the UK aerospace sector,” said Gary Elliott, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute. “We are also excited about the way it establishes a new and innovative supply chain, bringing together the best of the UK that includes cross-sector expertise, start-up energy and critical domain leadership.”

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