Rolls-Royce is set to be at the forefront of a £343m “revolution” in electric and hybrid planes, the Government has announced.
The investment, made by government and industry for research and development and productivity improvements will “transform the future of civil aerospace” and “continue the UK’s status as a pioneering aerospace nation”.
Rolls-Royce will work with Airbus and Siemens on the £58m E-FAN X project aimed at developing a flight demonstrator for hybrid-electric propulsion for commercial aircraft. The project, says the government, will bring forward hybrid-electric technology which will deliver improved environmental performance that is cleaner, quieter and introduce re-evaluations of the entire design of aircraft.
Rolls-Royce will also spearhead a £70m ULTRAFAN® and ACCEL projects worth a total of £70m. This will include four projects on engine technologies for UltraFan involving multiple partners including universities and smaller companies. A new generation of aircraft engine that aims to transform flight, setting new benchmarks in efficiency, environmental performance and precision engineering, ACCEL is intended to accelerate the adoption of electrical technology in aviation through the design build and flight test of a high performance electric powertrain.
Launching the programmes at the Farnborough Air Show, Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK has a rich heritage in civil aviation as the home of the jet engine and the wings factory of the world. Technology is driving revolutionary changes in aviation that have not been seen since the 1970s and today’s investment is foundational to the future of commercial aviation and ensuring the UK remains at the cutting-edge of the sector. This revolution in civil aerospace will bring significant benefits to UK industry, passengers and the environment.
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are working with industry to lead the world as we embark on this journey into the new age of air travel.”
Rob Watson, director of electrical, Rolls-Royce said: “We are delighted to be leading this research partnership. We are already investigating the potential of hybrid-electric propulsion, building on our existing expertise in applications such as hybrid trains and gas turbine-powered naval vessels, but this funding from the UK Government will enable us to explore the potential of all-electric flight.
“The increased use of electrical systems is an inescapable trend in our markets and championing electrification is a core part of our long-term strategy at Rolls-Royce.”