The pandemic has fully affected the aviation sector, but it seems that the situation is reversing and approaching normality. However, this industry has a new horizon to counteract: avoid pollution as much as possible. To this end, the Rolls-Royce company has announced the celebration of the first flight of its fully electric aircraft Spirit of Innovation.
During this first flight, the aircraft took to the skies powered by its powerful 400 kW electric powertrain with the highest power density battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft.
“The first flight of the is a great achievement for the ACCEL and Rolls-Royce team. We are focused on producing the technological advances that society needs to decarbonize air, land and sea transportation, and seize the economic opportunity of the transition to Net zero. It’s not just about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has interesting applications for the urban air mobility market and can help make ‘jet zero’ a reality. ” explains Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce.
The plane took off from the UK Ministry of Defense’s Boscombe Down site, which is run by QinetiQ, and flew for about 15 minutes. The site has a long tradition of experimental flights and the first flight marks the beginning of an intense flight test phase in which we will collect valuable performance data on the electrical power and propulsion system of the aircraft.
The ACCEL program, short for ‘Acceleration of Flight Electrification’ includes key partners YASA, the manufacturer of electric motors and controllers, and Electroflight for aviation start-up. The ACCEL team has continued to innovate while adhering to social distancing guidelines and other UK government health guidelines.
Half of the project funding is provided by the Aerospace Institute of Technology (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK. In the run-up to COP26, the ACCEL program is further proof of the UK’s position at the forefront of the zero-emission aviation revolution.
The boom in electric flights
Today, Rolls-Royce offers its customers a complete electric propulsion system, be it an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) or a commuter aircraft. “We will use the technology from the ACCEL project and apply it to products for these exciting new markets,” the company explains.
The characteristics that the ‘air-taxis’ require from the batteries are very similar to those that are being developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ so that it can reach speeds of more than 300 MPH. Additionally, Rolls-Royce and aircraft manufacturer Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe, Scandinavia’s largest regional airline, to deliver an all-electric airliner for the passenger market, which is slated to be ready for revenue service. in 2026.
Spirit of Innovation takes to the skies from Rolls-Royce on Vimeo .
The truth is, the company is committed to ensuring that its new products are net zero compliant by 2030 and all of our products will be net zero compliant by 2050.