Engineering giant Rolls-Royce has announced that its all-electric aeroplane, ‘Spirit of Innovation’, is merely weeks away from achieving flight.
Business Live reports that for the first time, the aircraft, propelled by its powerful 500hp (400kw) electric powertrain and the latest in energy storage technology, powered along a runway in taxiing tests of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing.
The first actual flight is scheduled for later in spring, 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, and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts.
The ACCEL programme, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.
The ACCEL team have continued to work on the project while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines.
The director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, said: “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.”
He added that the plane propelled itself forward for the first time using power from an advanced and ‘ground-breaking’ battery and propulsion system. It is hoped that the innovative system will help place Rolls-Royce as a market leader in electric power systems for the Urban Air Mobility Market.
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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