The British company Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the taxing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft, the latest milestone on its journey to becoming the world’s fastest all-electric plane. Fully assembled, the aircraft was able to perform maneuvers on the ground to test the successful integration of its advanced electric propulsion system into the airframe.
For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500 hp (400 kW) electric powertrain. Its latest energy storage technology is developed to set world speed records and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts.
The aircraft is being built together with a number of partners as part of the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) program funded by the UK government. As part of the project, technologies are being developed that, in the future, will make it possible to create faster and more reliable, more electric and all-electric aircraft.
The device will be powered by an advanced battery pack of 6,000 cells and has a flight range of 200 miles (320 km). The 500-hp (400-kW) all-electric powertrain is designed to propel the electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft to more than 300mph (482 km/h), setting a new world speed record for electric flight.
The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft was developed in collaboration with the British engine manufacturer YASA and start-up Electroflight. Both companies used a standard Nemesis NXT airframe for this. The project is partly funded by the British government.
“Electrification of flight is an important part of our sustainability strategy as we aim for net-zero carbon by 2050. Taxiing of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is an incredible milestone for the ACCEL team as we progress to first flight and the world-record attempt later this year,” said Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical. “For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system that is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology. This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market.“
The company specialists are currently preparing the aircraft for the first flight, which should take place by the end of March 2021.