Rolls-Royce completes ground-testing of expertise set to energy the world’s quickest all-electric airplane – Drones Information
Rolls-Royce has completed testing the groundbreaking technology that powers the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft. All of the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the aircraft core known as the “ionBird”. This includes an electric powertrain with 500 horsepower that is powerful enough to break speed records and a battery with enough energy to power 250 households.
The aircraft is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative called ACCEL, short for “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight”. Our ACCEL project team consists of the most important partners YASA, the manufacturer of electric motors and controls, and the start-up Electroflight for aviation. The team has continued to develop the technology in accordance with UK government guidelines on social distancing and other health issues. The systems will shortly be integrated into our “Spirit of Innovation” level. There is a long history of iron birds in aviation to test propulsion systems before flight. In this case, we named the test airframe “ionBird” after the emission-free energy source that powers the aircraft.
UK Economy and Industry Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “From trains to airplanes, our future transportation will be powered by clean, electrical sources. Companies like Rolls-Royce are developing the technology to meet our net zero ambitions. The completion of the ground tests for the government-sponsored ACCEL project is not only a step towards an exciting world record attempt, but also a step towards the development of all-electric and hybrid-electric aircraft that will one day carry large numbers of passengers around the world could. ”
The dedicated team has tested every single component of the system including:
- Run the propeller to full speed (approx. 2,400 rpm) using the most powerful battery pack ever assembled for aircraft propulsion. At full power during the flight test phase, the aircraft is brought to over 300 miles per hour and a new world speed record is set for electric flight. Over 6,000 cells are packed in the battery to ensure maximum safety, minimum weight and complete thermal protection.
- Since January, our technical and test pilots have spent many hours optimizing the system and developing operating procedures for electric flight.
- Generate GB of data per hour of operation that the team analyzed to improve performance where possible.
Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, said, “Rolls-Royce aims to be a leader in achieving net zero carbon by 2050. Completing the ground tests for the ACCEL project is a great achievement for the team and is also another important step towards a world record attempt. This project also helps develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we continue to be leaders in flight electrification, an important part of our sustainability strategy. “
Bremont will be the official timing partner for the all-electric speed record attempt. The British luxury watchmaker also helped design the aircraft’s cockpit with a stopwatch, while the company worked on parts for the canopy release at its Henley-on-Thames manufacturing facility.
The first flight is planned for the end of this year and we want to break the current world record for fully electric flights early next year. Half of the project funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.
Mark Scully, Director of Technology for Advanced Systems and Propulsion at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said, “The importance of reaching this milestone should not be underestimated. The ACCEL team is pioneering the integration of high performance batteries, motors, and propulsion to provide an electric propulsion system in an ambitious flight test program. These technologies and the system integration required for them offer great potential for future sustainable aviation. That’s why ATI is proud to support the project. “
The ACCEL project is a series of novelties for Rolls-Royce on the path to net zero carbon by 2050. It is the first Rolls-Royce project to use the offset to make the entire program climate neutral.
With the ACCEL project, we also want to inspire young people to think about STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). We have developed downloadable materials for elementary school children around the project. These are linked to the UK curriculum and everything can be downloaded from our website.