A specialized team recruited by Rolls-Royce is hard at work building an all-electric aircraft set to make history. Although it currently sits in a hangar at Gloucestershire airport in South West England, its destiny is to take to the sky, reaching more than 300 mph.
At this speed, it will become the fastest all-electric plane, beating the record of 210 mph set by Siemens in 2017. The team plans to take the top spot in 2020.
The project is part of a Rolls-Royce initiative known as Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL). Its mission is to “pioneer a third wave of aviation in support of Rolls-Royce’s strategy to champion electrification,” according to Rolls-Royce.
“This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight. In the year ahead, we’re going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline,” says ACCEL Project Manager for Rolls-Royce Matheu Parr.
Key Design Components
Battery: Rolls-Royce boasts the “most energy-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft,” which features 6,000 packaged cells and an advanced cooling system. Altogether, it can power 200 miles of flight on a single charge.
Motors: Electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA will provide three 750R lightweight electric motors that drive the propeller, delivering more than 500 horsepower.
Powertrain: Running at 750 V, the powertrain will have an all-electric design, delivering zero emissions and 90 percent energy efficiency.
Big Data: Every second, an array of sensors will gather vital in-flight stats across 20,000 data points. By measuring information related to general metrics, temperature, and battery voltage, the aircraft will up its safety and performance.
The Third Wave of Aviation
Rolls-Royce is no stranger to high speeds and competition. The company contributed the “R” engine that helped Britain’s Supermarine S.6B win the Schneider Trophy in 1931, awarded annually to the winner of a race for seaplanes and flying boats. On the day of competition, it achieved 343 mph and established Rolls-Royce’s foray into aerospace.
With that feat under their belt, and the Siemens e-flight within reach, Rolls-Royce will continue their efforts to smash records.
Partially funded by the U.K. government, the initiative include partners such as aviation start-up Electroflight, YASA, and Formula E design experts.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense