Rolls Royce finishes ground testing for all-electric record flight

PUBLISHED: 12:49 23 October 2020

Testing of the engine was conducted on the company’s “ionBird” test airframe

Testing of the engine was conducted on the company’s “ionBird” test airframe

Rolls-Royce 2020

Testing was conducted on the company’s ‘ionBird’ test airframe. Rolls-Royce claims the aircraft will be capable of reaching speeds of over 300mph

Rolls-Royce has finished ground-testing the powertrain to be mounted on the ‘world’s fastest all-electric plane’.

The project is part of Rolls-Royce’s ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ (ACCEL) initiative, which the company started in December 2019. Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, highlighted the strategic importance of electric propulsion for the company, saying “this project is 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.”

Testing was conducted on the company’s ‘ionBird’ test airframe. Rolls-Royce claims the aircraft, powered by three high-power-density axial electric motors producing a total of 500hp, will be capable of reaching speeds of over 300mph. Electric power is supplied by a 6,000-cell battery pack.

The aircraft is expected to fly for the first time later this year, with an official attempt at beating the all-electric flight world speed record planned for early 2021. Compared to a conventional aero engine, the propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM, delivering a more stable and quieter ride. During the record run the all-electric powertrain will, it is claimed, deliver 90% energy efficiency (and, of course, zero emissions).

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