The Spirit of Innovation - Rolls-Royce electric aeroplane.

Rolls-Royce’s All-electric Aircraft Makes Maiden Flight

In the ever-expanding world of Electric Vehicles (EVs), electric cars take the lion’s share of attention.

However, Rolls-Royce have recently taken to the skies in their “Spirit of Innovation” all-electric aircraft.

On 15th September at 14:56 BST, the innovative electric plane took off from the Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down airfield.

Powered by a 400kW electric powertrain, the electric aircraft, using the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled in an aeroplane, took flight with the equivalent of over 500HP powering its flight.

Taking off from QinetiQ’s site, the “Spirit of Innovation” flew for 15 minutes before safely returning to base.

The ACCEL programme, or “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” is a collaboration with innovative electric motor designer/manufacturer YASA and Electro Flight, the provider of battery systems for flight and defence.

ACCEL is part-funded by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

Speaking about the formative flight, Warren East, the CEO of Rolls-Royce said:

“The first flight of the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is a great achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce. We are focused on producing the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonise transport across air, land and sea, and capture the economic opportunity of the transition to net zero.”

Regarding the world speed record attempt in their 300+MPH electric plane, Rolls-Royce chief executive added:

“This is not only about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make ‘jet zero’ a reality.”

Gary Elliott, CEO of the ATI, mirrored the Rolls-Royce’ boss comments:

“The first flight of the Spirit of Innovation demonstrates how innovative technology can provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

Elliott continued:

“The ATI is funding projects like ACCEL to help UK develop new capabilities and secure a lead in the technologies that will decarbonise aviation. We congratulate everyone who has worked on the ACCEL project to make the first flight a reality and look forward to the world speed record attempt which will capture the imagination of the public in the year that the UK hosts COP26.”

As well as being an inspirational first major step in the development of electric flight, Rolls-Royce is developing further electric propulsion platforms, including those for electric vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) and commuter aircraft.

The British firm are currently working with airframe constructors Tecnam to supply Widerøe, the Norwegian airline, with an all-electric passenger plane by 2026.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, concluded:

“This achievement, and the records we hope will follow, shows the UK remains right at the forefront of aerospace innovation.”

Stay tuned for more new on the Spirit of Innovation’s world record attempt and further electro aviation news.

Spirit of Innovation takes to the skies from Rolls-Royce on Vimeo.


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