Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft, the latest milestone on its way to becoming the world’s fastest all-electric plane. (Earlier post.) The plane is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL, short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight”. The ACCEL project team includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.
For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its 500 hp (400 kW) electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology developed to set world speed records and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts.
The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing. The first flight is planned for the Spring and when at full power the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300 mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight.
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.
The characteristics that air-taxis require from batteries are very similar to what is being developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ so that it can reach record-breaking speeds. Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from the ACCEL project and applying it to products for the market.