Aerospace

Rolls-Royce completes ground-testing of technology set to power the world’s fastest all-electric plane

Updated on Thursday 24 September 2020, 12:05 PM

2 Minute Read

Rolls-Royce has completed testing of the ground-breaking technology that will power the world’s fastest all-electric plane. All the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core, called an ‘ionBird’, including a 500hp electric powertrain powerful enough to set world speed records and a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.

The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’. Our ACCEL project team includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.

The team has been developing the technology while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines and the systems will soon be integrated into our ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane. There is a long history of iron-birds in aviation for testing propulsion systems ahead of flight, but in this case we have named the test airframe ‘ionBird’, after the zero-emission energy source propelling the aircraft.

Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net-zero carbon by 2050. The completion of ground-testing for the ACCEL project is a great achievement for the team and is another important step towards a world record attempt.

Bremont, will be the official timing partner for the all-electric speed record attempt. The British luxury watchmaker has also helped develop the design of the plane’s cockpit which will feature a stopwatch, while the company has machined canopy release parts at its Henley-on-Thames manufacturing facility.

The first flight is planned for later this year and we are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year. 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.

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