Rolls-Royce has completed testing of the technology that will power the world’s fastest all-electric plane. All the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core, called an ‘ionBird’, including a 500 horsepower 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.
Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said, “Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net zero carbon by 2050. The completion of ground-testing for the ACCEL project is a great achievement for the team and is another important step towards a world record attempt. This project is also helping to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we remain a leader in delivering the electrification of flight, an important part of our sustainability strategy.”
Bremont, will be the official timing partner for the all-electric speed record attempt. The British luxury watch maker has also helped develop the design of the plane’s cockpit which will feature a stopwatch, while the company has machined canopy release parts at its Henley-on-Thames manufacturing facility.
The ACCEL project is a series of firsts for Rolls-Royce as we journey towards net zero carbon by 2050. It is the first Rolls-Royce project to use offsetting to make the whole programme carbon neutral.