26 May 2022

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All electric aeroplanes – will they come into commercial operation this decade?
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All electric aeroplanes – will they come into commercial operation this decade?

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Electric aircraft would be a huge contribution to reduction in carbon emissions

The idea of getting into an aeroplane powered purely by electricity is really quite exciting and probably extraordinary.

The subject comes up again because Rolls-Royce say their electric aeroplane, the Spirit of Innovation, is the fastest in the world. They say their aircraft reached a speed of 387.4 mph during recent rest runs carried out at Boscombe Down in November when they reckon new world records were made over three different distances.

The last record was set by Siemens Extra 330 LE in 2017 and Rolls-Royce claim that their new speed exceeds that of Siemens by 132 mph.

Nevertheless it is a grand step towards carbonless aviation and it appears that the advance has come about due to improving battery technology. Having enough power on board is the fundamental issue which must be resolved. It is exactly the same issue as is going to hold up the production of battery powered cars – their range is unfortunately rather low and this imposes a great demand on a need for charging points mid-journey. That option is not even a possibility for aircraft flying long distances – they cannot just “stop for electricity” in mid-air.

Rolls-Royce are not alone in the quest for development of electric aircraft; a number of other companies are working on it, including Airbus and Boeing.

For most of us the chances of getting a free flight into space like Cap’n Kirk is a big fat zero but getting a passenger flight in an all-electric aircraft might just be on the cards sooner than you think. Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the computer market, which is planned to be ready for revenue service in 2026.

How exciting will that be!

You can read the full Rolls-Royce press release here:

Adrian Leopard     20-11-21

Photo Rolls-Royce

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