In an earlier article here we covered the world’s first commercial electric aircraft flight by Harbour Air in Canada.
Rolls-Royce’s publicly announced its ambition to build the fastest all-electric aircraft as part of their ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ (ACCEL) initiative.
The project is a collaboration between the British engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, the electric motor manufacturer YASA and battery systems developer Electroflight. Half of the funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute in partnership with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of the UK.
Batteries are the limiting factor for electric flight at the moment. The ACCEL battery pack has 6000 cells and should be able to fly London to Paris (200 miles/320 km) on a single charge. The batteries provide power to three motors and are rated at a collective 500 horsepower, turning a propeller at far lower rpm than conventional aircraft. The goal is a speed of over 300 mph (480 kph) with, of course zero emissions.
Rolls also revealed the ionBird test airframe, which will be used to test the propulsion system at full power and for airworthiness.
The ACCEL programme includes partnering with Airbus on a demonstrator project towards hybrid commercial aircraft and with Widerøe in Scandinavia as part of the carrier’s ambitions to electrification of its regional fleet of 30+ aircraft by 2030.