Rolls-Royce eyes fastest, all-electric aircraft in June


A Rolls-Royce employee at an assembly plant in Derby, England. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the taxiing of its aircraft that seeks to become the world’s fastest all-electric plane this June.

For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp (400kw) electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology, is developed to set world speed records and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts.

The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing projected to start mid this year.

“The first flight is planned for the Spring and when at full power the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight,” said the company.

Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

UK Minister for Business Paul Scully said Rolls-Royce’s ‘Spirit of Innovation’ forms part of an exciting new chapter in aviation as the country moves towards its first flight in the spring.

“The UK is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Through government grants for research and development, we’re championing innovation in the aerospace sector to meet this ambitious target as we build back greener from the pandemic,” he said.

Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project and applying it to produce for the market.

“We are bringing a portfolio of motors, power electronics and batteries into the general aerospace, urban air mobility and small commuter aircraft sectors as part of our electrification strategy,” said the firm.

The company said the ACCEL project is part of its journey towards net zero carbon by 2050 and is also looking at inspire young people, through the ACCEL project, to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Gary Elliott, chief executive officer of the Aerospace Technology Institute, said the Aerospace Technology Institute was proud to co-fund the ACCEL project.

He said 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.