Rolls-Royce Thinks It’s Developing The Fastest Electric Airplane In The World

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Rolls-Royce has decided that it wants to produce the fastest electric airplane in the sky. Furthermore, it’s beyond the concept or visualization phase. Rolls-Royce has tested the technology for this on what’s called an “ionBird,” which means “a full-scale replica of the plane’s core.”

The electric airplane includes 500hp and “a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes” — though, exact energy capacity (or power capacity) is not given.

The Rolls-Royce initiative’s name basically comes from Tesla’s mission statement. It’s ACCEL, as in “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight.”

British electric powertrain company YASA is a partner, as is Electroflight, an electric aviation startup.

Here are details of the potential record-setting electric aircraft:

  • At full speed in the flight-testing phase, the propeller could propel the aircraft to more than 300 mph.
  • More than 6,000 battery cells packaged into the battery pack.

“The completion of ground-testing for the government-backed ACCEL project is not only a step towards an exciting world record attempt, but a leap towards developing all-electric and hybrid-electric planes that one day could ferry large numbers of passengers around the world,” says UK Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Rolls-Royce has been developing operating procedures for electric flight in the process of building this prototype.

“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. This project is also helping to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we remain a leader in delivering the electrification of flight, an important part of our sustainability strategy,” Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, says.

The world-record attempt for fastest electric airplane will be attempted in Bremont, California. Timing for the attempt is uncertain.

“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,” Rolls-Royce writes.

“The significance of reaching this milestone should not be underestimated. The ACCEL team is pioneering the integration of high-performance batteries, motors and drives to deliver an electric propulsion system in an ambitious flight test programme. These technologies and the systems integration needed to utilise them hold great potential for future sustainable aviation, which is why the ATI is proud to support the project,” says Mark Scully, Head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said.

Rolls-Royce has been working on electric aviation for a while, including on this project. See some of their previous work in this field:

  1. Rolls-Royce Launches Power Lab to Drive Future Technologies
  2. Rolls-Royce & Tecnam Electrifying Air Transport: High Power, High Scalability, Hybrid Powertrain — H3PS
  3. Rolls-Royce Racing To Build World’s Fastest Electric Airplane
  4. Rolls-Royce Electric VTOL Concept Means 5 People Flying At 250 MPH
  5. Airbus & Rolls-Royce End E-Fan X Electric Demo Project, Still Working To Decarbonize Aviation
  6. Rolls-Royce Claims Its Latest Electric Airplane Battery Has The World’s Highest Energy Density

Images courtesy Rolls-Royce.

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Zachary Shahan

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