Rolls-Royce unveiled the plane at Gloucestershire Airport and hopes to break the record by Spring 2020.
Work has now begun on integrating the ground-breaking electrical propulsion system to enable the zero-emissions plane to make a run for the record books with a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH). The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL – short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” and is a key part of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to champion electrification. 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 UK.
Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical said:
Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane. This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and 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. Planned tests over the next couple of months include running the propulsion system up to full power as well as key airworthiness checks.
ACCEL will 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. Its 6,000 cells are packaged to minimise weight and maximise thermal protection. An advanced cooling system ensures optimum performance by directly cooling cells during the high-power record runs. This battery technology has potential to be applied to other high-performance aerial mobility solutions, ideal for getting in and out of urban areas in a fraction of the time it would take with traditional transportation.
Chris Harris, CEO, YASA said:
YASA’s electric motor technology is ideal for powering electric flight – the advantages we see on the road are amplified in the air where reducing size and weight for a given power and torque is even more important. We share the same passion for engineering as the team at Rolls-Royce and are delighted to partner with them on ACCEL, a project that’s ushering in a new age of sustainable, electric flight.
The ACCEL project is just one of the ways in which Rolls-Royce is developing lower carbon power. This includes partnering with Airbus on the E-Fan X technology demonstrator project, which is an important stepping stone towards hybrid electric commercial aircraft at the scale of today’s single aisle family. Rolls-Royce is also working with Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia on a joint research programme on zero-emissions aviation. The programme is part of the airline´s ambition to replace and electrify its regional fleet of 30+ planes by 2030.
Why it’s important: As articulated by 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.” The technology can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low carbon global economy, and could be adapted as an efficient solution to urban aerial mobility initiatives.
Source // Rolls-Royce