Rolls-Royce’s all-electric ACCEL aircraft programme reached a milestone earlier this year with the successful completion of taxiing of the Spirit of Innovation.

The plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp [400kw] 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 milestone was a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing. At full power, the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight.

ACCEL entering “incredible phase over next few months”

Rolls-Royce has released a video update on the ACCEL programme, which is short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight.’ The programme, which started three years ago, also includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.

Director of Flight Operations for Rolls-Royce, Phill O’Dell said: “We’re entering an incredible phase over the next few months and then our first flight. I’m often asked what this project means, and this step means as part of that journey for the next generation. And to be able to look my own children in the eye and say ‘I’m sustainable’, ‘I’m driving to carbon zero in electric flight from Rolls-Royce.’ It doesn’t get any better than that.”

World record attempt to follow later this year

A world record attempt at the fastest all-electric flight is set to take place later this year after the aircraft takes its first flight. Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from the ACCEL project and applying it to products for the market. The company will be bringing a portfolio of motors, power electronics and batteries into the general aerospace, urban air mobility and small commuter aircraft sectors as part of its electrification strategy.

As well as being part of Rolls-Royce’s journey towards net zero carbon by 2050, the company is also looking to inspire young people to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) through the ACCEL project . Downloadable materials aimed at primary school children, linked to the UK curriculum are available through the Rolls-Royce website.


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