Rolls-Royce unveils new, all-electric plane

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Rolls-Royce is one step closer to making an electric future for aviation a reality.

The British manufacturer’s aviation business is perhaps best known today for producing engines that propel planes like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. But, the company said, it’s committed to developing more environmentally-friendly means of getting around.

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On Thursday, it announced a new single-engine plane, created to test a fully electric engine, that’s designed to be the fastest of its kind.

(Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce)

Late this spring Rolls-Royce plans to fly the new plane, which it’s deemed the ionBird, at record-breaking speeds in excess of 300 miles per hour.

“Building the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft is nothing less than a revolutionary step change in aviation,” Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce electrical said in a statement. “This is not only an important step towards the world-record attempt but will also help to develop Rolls-Royce’s capabilities and ensure that we are at the forefront of developing technology that can play a fundamental role in enabling the transition to a low-carbon global economy.”

(Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce)

In addition to the ionBird, Rolls-Royce is working on a number of other projects aimed reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint. It has partnered with Airbus to develop a hybrid-electric jet engine that could be used on single-aisle commercial aircraft, and is working with a Scandinavian regional airline to develop a fleet of all-electric commuter planes by 2030.

Featured image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

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Zach Wichter
covers the aviation industry for TPG. He previously worked for The New York Times.

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