Rolls-Royce plans world’s fastest all-electric aircraft

Posted on 7 Jan 2019 by Maddy White

Rolls-Royce has revealed plans to build a zero-emissions plane expected to hit a target speed of over 300mph in 2020.

Rolls-Royce is building a high-performance electric aircraft - image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce is building a high-performance electric aircraft – image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

Scheduled for flight next year, the aeroplane will reportedly reach a speed of 300+ mph, making it the fastest all-electric plane in history.

The current record for an electric aircraft, set by Siemens in 2017, is 210mph.

The plan forms part of an initiative called ACCEL – Accelerating the Electrification of Flight – that’s intended to pioneer a third wave of aviation in support of electric aircraft.

ACCEL is partly funded by the British government and involves partners including electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA, and the aviation start-up Electroflight.


Battery: It will reportedly have the most energy-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough power to fly 200 miles on a single charge.

The electric powertrain will run at 750 volts - image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.
The electric powertrain will run at 750 volts – image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

Its 6,000 cells are packaged for maximum lightness and thermal protection. An advanced cooling system can withstand the extreme temperatures and high-current demands during flight.

Motors: The propeller is driven by three high power density electric motors designed and manufactured by YASA in the UK. Compared to a conventional plane, the propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and quieter ride. Combined they’ll continuously deliver more than 500 horsepower for the run.

Powertrain: The electric powertrain will run at 750 volts and reportedly will deliver 90% energy efficiency with zero emissions.

Big data: Sensors will collect in-flight information each second across more than 20,000 points on the powertrain, measuring battery voltage, temperature and general performance metrics. This for safety and performance purposes.

ACCEL Project Manager for Rolls-Royce, Matheu Parr, said in a statement: “This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight. In the year ahead, we’re going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline.”

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The dominance of electric vehicles

The shift toward electric vehicles has become imminent, as they are being driven into the mainstream by industry and the government.

Low Carbon = Worcestershire has pledged to increase the number of electric vehicle charging points across the county - image courtesy of Pixabay
Electric vehicles are being driven into the mainstream – image courtesy of Pixabay.

Many manufacturers are investing in the technology – including Dysonsupercar makersJaguar Land Rover and morewith the government even launching an electric vehicle data centre – as a cleaner transport system looks certain to be the future.

This pushed forward by political policy, with the UK government pledging that at least half of all new cars sold in Britain should be low carbon by 2030, and the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans will end by 2040. The Manufacturer previously asked if this is fair to the automotive industry.

As governments across the globe look to introduce emission reduction strategies, automotive and even aerospace manufacturers are now taking steps to develop electrically-powered vehicles.