Latest News | 27 September 2021

Spirit of Innovation all-electric plane completes first flight

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An all-electric plane bidding to become the world’s fastest has completed its first flight, Rolls-Royce has announced.

The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft has taken off from the Ministry of Defence's Boscombe Down site, in Wiltshire, flying for approximately 15 minutes. The first flight marks the beginning of an intense testing phase for the plane, which is hoping to reach speeds of more than 300mph, and is another milestone on the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation.

Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said: “We are focused on producing the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonise transport across air, land and sea, and capture the economic opportunity of the transition to net zero.

“This is not only about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make ‘jet zero’ a reality.”

The first flight marks the beginning of an intense flight-testing phase in which valuable performance data on the aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system will be collected.

The ACCEL programme, short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer, and aviation start-up Electroflight.

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. In the run up to COP26, the ACCEL programme is further evidence of the UK’s position at the forefront of the zero-emission aircraft revolution.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The first flight of Rolls-Royce’s revolutionary 'Spirit of Innovation' aircraft signals a huge step forward in the global transition to cleaner forms of flight. This achievement, and the records we hope will follow, shows the UK remains right at the forefront of aerospace innovation.

“By backing projects like this one, the Government is helping to drive forward the boundary pushing technologies that will leverage investment and unlock the cleaner, greener aircraft required to end our contribution to climate change.”

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