Rolls-Royce has introduced the plane it hopes will set a new record for the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, announcing plans to try for the top spot in late Spring 2020. According to the company, its target speed for the aircraft is 300 mph (480 kph/260 kts) or greater. The previous record of 210 mph (338 kph/185 kts) was set by Siemens in 2017. The record attempt is part of Rolls-Royce’s “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” (ACCEL) initiative and is being conducted in partnership with companies including electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation startup Electroflight. The project is funded in part by the government of the U.K.
“Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation and we are delighted to unveil the ACCEL project plane,” said Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical Rob Watson. “This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low carbon global economy.”
The ACCEL aircraft’s propeller will be driven by three high-power-density axial electric motors delivering a combined 500-plus horsepower. Its 6,000-cell battery pack, which Rolls-Royce is calling “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft,” is expected to be capable of taking the aircraft 200 miles on one charge. Rolls-Royce also unveiled its “ionBird” test airframe which will be used to test the propulsion system before it is fully integrated into the aircraft.