FLIGHT OPS iTINNOVATION & TECHNOLOGY

All-electric aircraft announced by Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s unveiled its all-electric plane at Gloucestershire Airport in December. The manufacturer has disclosed that work will now begin on integrating the electrical propulsion system to enable the zero-emissions plane to attempt a record with a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH) in late Spring 2020.

The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) and is a key part of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to bring about electrification in its products. 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.

“The UK has a proud heritage and enviable worldwide reputation for advances in aviation technology,” says UK Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi. “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.” “Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is a revolutionary step change in aviation, and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL plane,” adds Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical. “This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilitiesand 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. The next couple of months will see planned tests underway, including running the propulsion system up to full power as well as key airworthiness checks.

ACCEL will also have the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough energy to fuel 250 homes or fly 200 miles (London to Paris) on a single charge.

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