What will be the world’s fastest electric plane takes off for the first time

Image: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce announced last Wednesday, September 15, the completion of the inaugural flight of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’, the company’s first all-electric plane. At 2:56 pm (local time), the plane took to the skies powered by its mighty 400 kW (about 530 horsepower) power with the densest battery ever assembled for an aircraft.

This is another step towards the plane’s world record attempt and another milestone in the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation.

Spirit of Innovation takes to the skies from Rolls-Royce on Vimeo.

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said:

“The first flight of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is a great achievement for the ACCEL and Rolls-Royce team. We are focused on delivering the technological advances society needs to decarbonise air, land and sea transport, capturing the economic opportunity of the transition to liquid zero.

“It’s not just about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has interesting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make ‘zero jet’ a reality.”

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said:

“The first flight of the revolutionary aircraft signals a major step in the global transition to cleaner forms of flight. This achievement, and the records we hope to follow, shows that the UK remains at the forefront of aerospace innovation.

“By supporting projects like this, the government is helping to push technologies that push limits that will leverage investment and unlock the cleaner, greener aircraft needed to end our contribution to climate change.”

Rolls-Royce
Image: Rolls-Royce

The aircraft took off from the UK Ministry of Defense’s Boscombe Down field, which is managed by QinetiQ, and flew for approximately 15 minutes. The site has a long heritage of experimental flights, and the first take-off marks the beginning of an intense flight test phase, in which the company will collect valuable performance data from the aircraft’s electric propulsion and power system.

The ACCEL program, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’, includes as key partners YASA, electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation startup Electroflight. The ACCEL team continued to innovate while adhering to the UK government’s social distance and other health guidelines.

Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the UK Department of Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy and Innovation. In the run to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the ACCEL program is further proof of the UK’s position at the forefront of the zero-emission aircraft revolution.

Rolls-Royce
Image: Rolls-Royce

Gary Elliott, CEO do Aerospace Technology Institute, disse:

“The aircraft’s first flight demonstrates how innovative technology can provide solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. ATI is funding projects like ACCEL to help the UK develop new capabilities and secure leadership in technologies that will decarbonise aviation.

“We congratulate everyone who worked on the ACCEL project to make the first flight a reality and look forward to the world speed record attempt that will capture the public’s imagination in the year the UK will host COP26.”

Rolls-Royce is offering its customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether it is a vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft or regional transport aircraft. The company is using technology from the ACCEL project and applying it to products for new and exciting markets.

The characteristics that the ‘flying taxis’ require from the batteries are very similar to what is being developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ so that it can reach speeds of 480 km/h – a goal that the company aims to achieve.

In addition, Rolls-Royce and Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe, Scandinavia’s largest regional airline, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft to the passenger market, which is planned to be ready for commercial service in 2026 .

In June, the path to net zero carbon emissions was announced – a year after the company joined the UN’s Run to Zero campaign – and the aircraft is one way in which Rolls-Royce is helping decarbonize critical parts of the global economy in which it operates.

The company says it is committed to ensuring that new products are compliant with zero net carbon operation by 2030 and all other existing products are compliant by 2050 as well.

Rolls-Royce Information

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