Rolls-Royce say they have completed testing of the “ground-breaking technology” that will power the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft.
The ‘ionBird’ test aircraft will be used to hit speeds of over 300 mph.
All the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the aircraft’s core, called an ‘ionBird’, including a 500hp electric powertrain powerful enough to set world speed records and a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.
“The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’. Our ACCEL project team includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight. The team has been developing the technology while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines and the systems will soon be integrated into our ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane. There is a long history of iron-birds in aviation for testing propulsion systems ahead of flight, but in this case we have named the test airframe ‘ionBird’, after the zero-emission energy source propelling the aircraft.”
UK Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
“From trains to planes, our transport of the future will be powered by clean, electric sources – with companies like Rolls-Royce developing the tech to help meet our net zero ambitions. The completion of ground-testing for the government-backed ACCEL project is not only a step towards an exciting world record attempt, but a leap towards developing all-electric and hybrid-electric planes that one day could ferry large numbers of passengers around the world.”
The firm say that the first flight is planned for later this year and that they are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year. 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.