Experts at the Filton Rolls-Royce site have been involved in developing ground-breaking technology that will power the world’s fastest electric plane.
Testing is now complete on a full-scale replica of the aircraft’s core, ‘ionBird’, which includes a 500hp electric powertrain with the capabilities to set global speed records and a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.
The plane is part of Rolls-Royce’s ACCEL initiative (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight), which is run in partnership with YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation startup Electroflight.
Work has been taking place at Gloucestershire Airport, drawing in expertise from teams at the company’s Bristol site.
Speaking about the latest breakthrough, Rob Watson, the director of 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.”
The first flight is planned for later this year and the team is 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, in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.
Mark Scully, head of technology for advanced systems & propulsion at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said the significance of reaching this milestone should not be underestimated.
He added: “These technologies and the systems integration needed to utilise them hold great potential for future sustainable aviation, which is why the ATI is proud to support the project.”
The ACCEL project the first Rolls-Royce project to use offsetting to make the whole programme carbon neutral.
All photos courtesy of Rolls-Royce