Aerospace News, March 2021


Aerospace R&D projects aimed at boosting efficiencies, creating jobs, and driving green innovation across the plane manufacturing sector are among successful bidders sharing £90m of new backing from the UK government, which claimed the funding would help the wider industry “build back greener” from the Covid-19 crisis.

The government announced five projects on Friday which would share the new funding, as part of a package it claimed could secure 1,400 jobs across the stricken aerospace and aviation sector, which has been hit hard by the pandemic-related travel restrictions over the past year.

The funding is being channelled through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) Programme, which aims to improve manufacturing within the industry by developing technology to make production lines quicker, more efficient, and cost-effective, according to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Rolls-Royce has completed the taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft, the latest milestone on its journey to becoming the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

For the first time, the plane powered along a runway propelled by its powerful 500hp [400kw] electric powertrain and the latest energy storage technology developed to set world speed records and enable a new generation of urban air mobility concepts.

The taxiing of the plane is a critical test of the integration of the aircraft’s propulsion system, ahead of actual flight-testing. The first flight is planned for the Spring and when at full power the combination of electrical powertrain and advanced battery system will power the aircraft to more than 300mph, setting a new world speed record for electric flight.

Rolls-Royce has linked up with Norwegian regional carrier Wideroe and aeronautics firm Tecnam to develop an all-electric passenger aircraft within the next five years.

Rolls-Royce said the project expands on the successful research programme between themselves and Widerøe on sustainable aviation and the existing partnership between Rolls-Royce and Tecnam on powering the all-electric P-Volt aircraft.

Stein Nilsen, chief executive, Widerøe said: “Norway’s extensive network of short take-off and landing airports is ideal for zero emissions technologies. This aircraft shows how quickly new technology can and will be developed, and that we are on track with our ambition of flying with zero emissions around 2025.”

Rob Watson, director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Electrification will help us deliver our ambition to enable the markets in which we operate achieve net zero carbon by 2050.

This collaboration strengthens our existing relationships with Tecnam and Widerøe as we look to explore what is needed to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market. It also demonstrates Rolls-Royce’s ambitions to be the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid electric propulsion and power systems across multiple aviation markets.”