Rolls-Royce has designed a propulsion system for an eVTOL that they claim could be in-service in under 10 years.
The British company stated that it created a design for an “electric vertical take-off and landing” vehicle. Such a vehicle could carry 4 or 5 passengers.
The vehicle could travel at 250 mph (402 km/h) for around 500 miles, Rolls-Royce said.
Rolls is joining an ever-growing group of eVTOL manufacturers in an industry that continues to heat up.
Rob Watson spoke ahead of this week’s Farnborough Airshow. Watson is head Rolls’ electrical team, and said: “We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners.”
Rolls said their initial concept propulsion system utilizes M250 gas turbine technology to generate electricity that will power six electric propulsors. These propulsors are also designed to have a low noise level, and the M250 gas turbine has logged more than 250 million flight hours across the entire fleet.
Such an eVTOL has wings that can rotate 90 degrees to facilitate vertical takeoff and landing, while also functioning like a conventional aircraft in forward flight.
“We believe that given the work we are doing today to develop hybrid electric propulsion capabilities, this model could be available by the early to mid 2020s, provided that a viable commercial model for its introduction can be created,” Rolls said.
Rolls-Royce is currently seeking out an airframe partner for their propulsion system in order to complete further refinements and integrate the system into a viable aircraft.
Why it’s important: Rolls-Royce is firmly established as one of the heaviest hitters of the aerospace propulsion industry, so their announcement to enter the eVTOL industry is not a complete surprise – more attention will be drawn to the firm when they partner with an airframe maker. Most likely, this search is already under way.