Rolls-Royce successfully completes ground testing of world’s fastest all-electric plane

Rolls-Royce ACCEL plane

Rolls-Royce’s aerospace division has announced the completion of ground testing for the U.K.-government-backed ACCEL program – ACCEL being short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight – for its 500hp electric powertrain ‘ionBird’.

The engine will be used early next year in an attempt to break world speed records in its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane which will be equipped with a battery that has sufficient energy to power 250 homes. When operating at full speed the plane will be able to fly at speeds up to 300mph while the propellor rotates at 2,400 rpm.

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.”

The maiden flight is anticipated to take place later this year and world speed record attempts for all-electric flight challenged in the first half of 2021. 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. The ACCEL team is pioneering the integration of high-performance batteries, motors and drives to deliver an electric propulsion system in an ambitious flight test programme. These technologies and the systems integration needed to utilize them hold great potential for future sustainable aviation, which is why the ATI is proud to support the project.” 

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