Rolls-Royce all-electric aeroplane heading for record breaking flight in coming weeks
Named ‘Spirit of Innovation’, the twin-propeller vehicle is claimed to be the fastest electric plane in the world, going for a run in the record books as it targets a speed of above 300 MPH.
FTSE 100-listed Rolls has specially designed and assembled the battery pack to break the all-electric speed record.
The 6,000 cells in the battery are “packaged for maximum lightness and thermal protection”, the company says on its website, with an advanced cooling system can withstand the extreme temperatures and high-current demands during flight.
On a single charge, it should fly the plane and a pilot 200 miles, or from London to Paris.
Rolls-Royce gave a first look at the ACCEL project, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’, in 2019, saying it hoped the plane will break speed records and bring in a “third age of aviation”.
In March this year, the company reported a successful taxiing of the plane, an important test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system before it can be tested in the air.
Partners on the project are electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation start-up Electroflight.
Lightweight battery specialist Electroflight brings ‘unprecedented’ levels of energy density to the design, which will also be seen in the High Energy Propulsion Battery System (HEPBAS) that it is developing.
Rolls-Royce is confident that the batteries developments driving the Spirit of Innovation into the air are “very similar” to the characteristics that ‘air-taxis’ will require, as the company plans to use the technology from the project and applying it to products for the market.
“We are bringing a portfolio of motors, power electronics and batteries into the general aerospace, urban air mobility and small commuter aircraft sectors as part of our electrification strategy,” it says.
Other developments in emissions-free aircraft this year included a £27.2mln UK government grant for the H2GEAR project, led by Melrose Industries’ GKN Aerospace, to develop a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for regional air travel. Converting liquid hydrogen to create electricity, H2GEAR aims to develop a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for short flights, then scale up the technology over time.
Other big companies are also looking at electric flying cars, with General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) shares rising to a record high in January after it unveiled a new electric car that will not only fly but also be self-driving – beat that Elon!