Rolls-Royce achieves new milestone towards world’s ‘fastest’ all-electric aircraft

The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing, which has been planned for the Spring

The Big Zero report

Rolls-Royce has achieved a new milestone on its journey towards developing the world’s fastest all-electric plane having successfully completed the taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft.

The plane, for the first time, has powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp, or 400kW, electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology developed to set world speed records.

The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing, which has been planned for the Spring.

When at full power, the combination of the electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight.

The Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) programme includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer and aviation start-up Electroflight.

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.”

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.

Business Minister Paul Scully added: “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.”

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