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Rolls-Royce completes testing of powertrain for fastest all-electric aircraft

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Aerospace engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has completed testing a technology to power an all-electric plane, which is claimed to be the world’s fastest.

A complete replica of the system of the aircraft’s core named as ‘ionBird’ has been tested by the company.

The all-electric aircraft is part of a Rolls-Royce ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ (ACCEL) initiative.

Key partners of the initiative include electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation start-up Electroflight.

Rolls-Royce Electrical director Rob Watson said: “Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net-zero carbon by 2050. The completion of ground-testing for the ACCEL project is a great achievement for the team and is another important step towards a world record attempt. This project is also helping to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we remain a leader in delivering the electrification of flight, an important part of our sustainability strategy.”

During the testing, the team ran the propeller up to complete speed of around 2,400pm using the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for aircraft propulsion, claimed the company.

It will propel the aircraft to more than 300mph at full power during the flight-testing phase, thereby setting a new world speed record for an all-electric flight.

More than 6,000 cells are packaged in the battery to ensure maximum safety, minimum weight and complete thermal protection.

Later this year, the first flight is being planned.

The company claimed that it is ‘aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year’.

Approximately 50% 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.

In a separate development in the electric passenger flight sphere, decarbonising commercial aviation solution provider ZeroAvia has successfully completed hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft.

Claimed to be the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft, the flight took place took at the company’s R&D facility in Cranfield, UK.

The company performed various tests, including taxi, takeoff, a full pattern circuit, and landing using the Piper M-class six-seat plane.

The move for commercial zero-emission flight is part of the company’s HyFlyer project, which is supported by the UK Government.

In July, UK-based engineering and development firm Electric Aviation Group (EAG) unveiled the design for a hybrid electric regional aircraft (HERA).






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