Looking back to 1931, Rolls-Royce helped Britain win the Schneider Trophy by powering the Supermarine S.6B with its R engine and set a speed record of 343 mph. Now the company is working with a team of aviation and motorsport engineers to build the fastest electric aeroplane.
The ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) programme, working inside a hangar at the far end of Gloucestershire airport in South West England and partly funded by the UK government, is set to break the current electric plane speed record of 213mph set by Siemens last year. However, Rolls-Royce is aiming higher and expect the plane to hit more than 300mph. To set a new record, the plane will be “powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight,” according to ACCEL Project Manager Matheu Parr.
The battery is made from 6,000 lithium ion cells, making it the most energy-dense battery for flying and a single charge will power the plane to travel up to 200 miles. Three 750-volt electric motors from YASA are boosting 500 hp combined, while the custom-designed propeller blades spin at a far lower RPM to deliver a more stable and far quieter ride.
The ACCEL plane is targeted to take to the skies over the UK in the first half of 2020.