STAVERTON, England—Britain has a long history of setting speed records on land, sea and air. The latest chapter is being written by Rolls-Royce and its “Spirit of Innovation” electric aircraft.
Later this year, the engine manufacturer plans to set a world record by flying the plane by breaking the 300 mph barrier. The aircraft recently completed a successful taxi. For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its 400-kilowatt electric power train.
“The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system ahead of actual flight-testing,” says Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical. “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.
“The first flight is planned for the spring,” explains Watson. “When at full power, the electric power train and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight.
“[We] will be using the technology from the project and applying it to products,” adds Watson. “We are bringing a portfolio of motors, power electronics and batteries into the general aerospace, urban air mobility and small commuter aircraft sectors as part of our electrification strategy.”