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First look at ACCEL – the world’s fastest electric plane being built by Rolls-Royce

A team of Rolls-Royce engineers are toiling in a hangar in south west England, building an all-electric aircraft which they expect will smash speed records
accel electric plane
ACCEL is unlikely to ever be made into a production model but it is an important step in electric plane travel

Roll Royce Holdings PLC (LON:RR.) has given the public the first look at the designs for ACCEL – its all-electric aircraft which it hopes will smash records and bring in the “third age of aviation”.

A team of British engineers in a hangar bay at Gloucestershire airport are currently building the zero-emissions plane, which is set to take to the skies in 2020.

Next year will also see ACCEL, which is short for ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’, attempt to earn the title of the world’s fastest all-electric plane.

The official figure is that the aircraft will hit at least 300mph, although the FTSE 100 engine maker reckons it will “quite likely [be] more”.

Siemens’ electric plane set the current record when it topped at 210mph back in 2017.

With a wingspan of only 24-feet, ACCEL is not only small but it is unlikely to ever be made into a production model anyway.

ACCEL more of a stepping stone

Instead, after it has taken flight in its world record attempt, Rolls-Royce will more likely use what it has learned to further its attempts to build an electric passenger jet.

Unlike electric vehicles, all-electric planes have so far proved a tough nut for engineers to crack.

The major sticking point is that to add range and speed, more power is needed, which in turn requires more weight in the form of extra battery packs.

Rolls-Royce is trying to get around this by using some of the most power-dense battery packs ever made. This will not only allow ACCEL to hit speeds of more than 300mph, but it will also give it a 200-mile range – enough to go from London to Paris.

Rolls-Royce shares were down 2% to 809.2p in early-afternoon trading on Monday.

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