ROLLS-ROYCE TO BUILD IONBIRD WORLDS’S FASTEST ELECTRIC-POWERED AIRCRAFT

October 03, 2020

Rolls-royce advised that it plans to build the world’s fastest electric-powered aircraft
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: “Our ambitions to build the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft have taken an important step forward with the completion of the testing of the ground-breaking technology that will power the world’s fastest all-electric plane. All the technology has been tested on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core, called an ‘ionBird’, including a 500hp electric powertrain powerful enough to set world speed records”
The plane is part of the company’s initiative called ACCEL, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ which was launched at Farnborough Air Show in 2018. The ACCEL project team includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight. The team has been developing the technology at Gloucestershire Airport while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines and the systems will soon be integrated into the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane.
The dedicated team have tested each and every component of the system including:
• Running the propeller up to full speed (approximately 2,400 rpm) using the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for aircraft propulsion. When at full power during the flight-testing phase, it will propel the aircraft to more than 300mph setting a new world speed record for electric flight. Over 6,000 cells are packaged in the battery for maximum safety, minimum weight and full thermal protection.
• Since January, our engineering and test pilots have spent many hours optimising the system and developing operating procedures for electric flight.
• Generating GBs of data every hour of operation which the team have analysed to improve performance wherever possible.
The propeller is driven by three high power density axial electric motors and compared to a conventional plane, the propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and far quieter ride. Combined they’ll continuously deliver more than 500 horsepower for the record run. Even during the record run the all-electric powertrain delivers power with 90% energy efficiency and of course zero emissions. (In comparison, a Formula 1 race car tops out at close to 50% energy efficiency).
Bremont, will be the official timing partner for the all-electric speed record attempt.
The British luxury watch maker has helped develop the design of the plane’s cockpit which will feature a stopwatch, while the company has machined canopy release parts at its Henley-on-Thames manufacturing facility.
The first flight is planned for later this year and we are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record. 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.
Mark Scully, Head of Technology for Advanced Systems & Propulsion at the Aerospace Technology Institute, said: “The significance of reaching this milestone should not be underestimated. The ACCEL team is pioneering the integration of high-performance batteries, motors and drives to deliver an electric propulsion system in an ambitious flight test programme. These technologies and the systems integration needed to utilise them
hold great potential for future sustainable aviation, which is why the ATI is proud to support the project.”

(Source and image: Rolls-Royce)