Rolls-Royce’s all electric aircraft ‘Spirit of Innovation’ made its maiden flight. It is propelled by a powerful 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft. Rolls-Royce plans to set a new world record of 300 mph later this year with this plane.
The aircraft took off from the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down site. It flew for around 15 minutes. “The first flight marks the beginning of an intense flight-testing phase in which we will be collecting valuable performance data on the aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system,” says Rolls-Royce.
The flight is developed under the ACCEL program, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.
Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Innovate UK.
Rolls-Royce offers its customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether it is an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) or commuter aircraft. Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are working with Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft by 2026.
“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.” said Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce. “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.