Rolls-Royce all-electric aircraft is ready for June take-off

British luxury car maker Rolls-Royce has successfully finalised taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft, the latest step on its drive to becoming the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

Taxiing of the plane is a crucial test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, in readiness of actual flight-testing that is set for June, this year.

The plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology developed to set world speed records and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts. 

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Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Electrification of flight is an important part of our sustainability strategy as we aim for net zero carbon by 2050. Taxiing of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is an incredible milestone for the ACCEL team as we progress to first flight and the world-record attempt later this year.

“For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system that is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology. This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market.”

The ACCEL programme, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight,’ brings together partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight that supplies bespoke battery systems for the aerospace sector.

About 50 per cent of the project’s financing is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

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Aerospace Technology Institute CEO Gary Elliott said: “The aims of ACCEL align with the long-term objectives of the ATI strategy: to fund exciting and innovative technology development that secures a lead for the UK in next-generation zero-emission propulsion, and to continue to support highly-skilled jobs and generate economic return for the benefit of the UK.”

“The taxiing of Rolls-Royce’s ‘Spirit of Innovation’ forms part of an exciting new chapter in aviation as we move towards its first flight in the spring. Set to be the world’s fastest electric plane, this pioneering aircraft highlights the value of close collaboration between industry and government.

“The UK is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Through government grants for research and development, we’re championing innovation in the aerospace sector to meet this ambitious target as we build back greener from the pandemic,” said UK’s minister for Business Paul Scully.

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