Rolls Royce completes first flight of all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft.
On September 15 2021 Rolls Royce announced the completion of the first flight of their all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft. The plane went to the sky, powered by a 400kW (500+hp) electric motor and the most power-dense battery pack ever manufactured for an airplane. This is another step toward the plane’s bid at a world record, as well as another milestone in the aviation industry’s decarbonization path.
“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. 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.”Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said in press release
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The first flight of Rolls-Royce’s Revolutionary Spirit of Innovation aircraft signals a huge step forward in the global transition to cleaner forms of flight. This achievement, and the records we hope will follow, shows the UK remains right at the forefront of aerospace innovation.
“By backing projects like this one, the Government is helping to drive forward the boundary-pushing technologies that will leverage investment and unlock the cleaner, greener aircraft required to end our contribution to climate change.”
The aircraft took off from QinetiQ’s Boscombe Down base, which is administered by the UK Ministry of Defence, and flew for about 15 minutes. The first flight marks the start of an intensive flight-testing phase in which we will collect valuable performance data on the aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system. The site has a long history of experimental flights, and the first flight marks the start of an intense flight-testing phase in which we will collect valuable performance data on the aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system. YASA, an electric motor, and controller company, an aviation start-up Electroflight are important partners in the ACCEL program, which stands for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight.’ While following the UK Government’s social distancing and other health standards, the ACCEL team has continued to innovate.
The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK, is providing half of the project’s financing. The ACCEL program, launched in the run-up to COP26, demonstrates the UK’s leadership in the zero-emission aviation revolution.
“The first flight of the Spirit of Innovation demonstrates how innovative technology can provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges,” said Gary Elliott, CEO, Aerospace Technology Institute. “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.”
Customers can get a complete electric propulsion system for their aircraft, whether it’s an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) or a commuter plane, from Rolls-Royce. RR will use the technology developed in the ACCEL project to products aimed at these fascinating new markets.
The properties that ‘air taxis demand from batteries are quite similar to what is being created for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ in order for it to attain speeds of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH) – which is what they are aiming for in their world record attempt. In addition, Widere, Scandinavia’s largest regional airline, is currently collaborating with Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam on an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is expected to be ready for revenue service in 2026.
Rolls Royce declared a path to net-zero carbon emissions in June, a year after joining the UN Race to Zero campaign, and the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is one way the company is working to decarbonize the global economy’s essential pieces. RR is dedicated to guaranteeing that all of their new products are net-zero compatible by 2030 and that all of their products are net-zero compatible by 2050, the press release stated.
Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a publicly traded company. In 2020, their underlying annual sales were £11.76 billion, and they spent £1.25 billion on research and development. Rolls-Royce engineers are also at the forefront of scientific research thanks to a global network of 28 University Technology Centres.