Aircraft

Rolls Royce taxis the world's fastest electric aircraft to-be

Rolls Royce taxis the world's ...
The first flight for the Spirit of Innovation is expected to take place this European springtime
The first flight for the Spirit of Innovation is expected to take place this European springtime
View 3 Images
The 500-hp (400-kW) all-electric powertrain is designed to one day propel the electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft to speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h)
1/3
The 500-hp (400-kW) all-electric powertrain is designed to one day propel the electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft to speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h)
The way Rolls-Royce sees it, the technologies it is developing for the Spirit of Innovation will also apply to the world of air taxis
2/3
The way Rolls-Royce sees it, the technologies it is developing for the Spirit of Innovation will also apply to the world of air taxis
The first flight for the Spirit of Innovation is expected to take place this European springtime
3/3
The first flight for the Spirit of Innovation is expected to take place this European springtime
View gallery - 3 images

A speedy all-electric aircraft being developed with one eye on the record books has taken another step forward, with Rolls-Royce taking its Spirit of Innovation plane to the runway for the very first time. These first taxi tests of what is designed to become the world's fastest electric plane are an important early demonstration of its cutting edge propulsion systems, which the developers hope can offer a blueprint for not just planes but air taxis and other futuristic forms of urban mobility.

We first caught wind of the Spirit of Innovation plane back in 2019, when Rolls-Royce announced the concept along with its plans to top the previous speed record for an electric plane – 210 mph (338 km/h) set by Siemens in 2017. It is being built together with a number of partners as part of the Accelerating the Electrification of Flight program funded by the UK government, and will be powered by a battery pack of 6,000 cells, claimed to be the most energy-dense ever integrated into an aircraft.

The 500-hp (400-kW) all-electric powertrain is designed to one day propel the electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft to speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h)
The 500-hp (400-kW) all-electric powertrain is designed to one day propel the electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft to speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h)

The 500-hp (400 kW) all-electric powertrain is expected to one day propel the aircraft to speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h) and claim a new record for electric flight in the process. As early tentative steps toward this goal, the Spirit of Innovation has now demonstrated a successful integration of this advanced propulsion system by using it to roll down the runway for the first time.

"For the first time, the plane propelled itself forward using the power from an advanced battery and propulsion system that is ground-breaking in terms of electrical technology," says Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical. "This system and the capabilities being developed will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market.”

The way Rolls-Royce sees it, at least some of the technologies it is developing for the Spirit of Innovation will also apply to the world of air taxis, a burgeoning area of transportation research and development and one where the company is making moves of its own.

The first flight for the Spirit of Innovation is expected to take place this European springtime.

Source: Rolls Royce

View gallery - 3 images
12 comments
12 comments
VincentWolf
Its just a matter of time before two thirds of all aviation is via electric craft. Only International flights will continue to be those polluting Jets that burn fossil fuels and make nasty pollution.
comet
That’s a handsome looking plane, and a serious looking power plant.
michael_dowling
VincentWolf: Nah,international flights will use H2 powered fuel cells,with H2O only byproduct https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/zeroavia-zero-emission-hydrogen-planes-spc-intl/index.html
paul314
Electric aircraft should eventually be able to beat the 500 mph-plus numbers for combustion-driven planes.
steve47
I wonder how Harbor Air is doing with their plan to convert some of their turboprop float planes into pure electric planes ? I wonder if Covid pandemic stalled the project ?
ljaques
That's not nearly as pretty or practical as the lovely Spitfire body that R.J. Mitchell wrapped around the Rolls Merlin engine for WWII. I'm guessing that the batteries sit squarely over the wings (or even into them?) while the pilot offsets the weight of the engine/ctrlr. Very strange design, but CGs are important.
Jim Holman
Lucas electric I hope, not
Lamar Havard
Electric vehicles still have to be charged, and fossil fuels pollute, solar panels and batteries pollute in manufacturing and disposal, and giant wind turbine blades aren't recyclable and end up in landfills. Hydro and nuclear are the cleanest and most efficient. If all nuclear used thorium, it would be as clean as hydro.
Tristan P
@Lamar Havard - "...nuclear are the cleanest..." Seriously? Fukushima doesn't look to clean to me. Neither does Chernobyl. Or many other examples.
Lamar Havard
Tristan P. - Barring accidents, and the advances in waste storage, nuclear is cleaner than natural gas. And if thorium were implemented, the waste from traditional nuclear plants could be used in them until the material was rendered inert...no storage required.