Rolls-Royce has confirmed the CityAirbus eVTOL aircraft it worked on with Airbus has successfully completed its flight-testing programme.
Publishing an update last week, the company said the important collaboration, in which a Rolls-Royce all-electric propulsion system powered the aircraft, achieved ‘all the major technical and performance milestones needed to advance the technology.’
The all-electric octocopter was designed to carry up to four passengers at a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour. It was part of a technology demonstrator programme that could help shape future travel within cities. For acoustic control and a quieter flight, the eight propellers were rotated at low speeds of less than 1000 rpm.
Gabriele Teofili, Head of Urban Air Mobility Business Area for Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “Seeing the CityAirbus flying, the very first take-off and then the very first landing and the happiness that I felt, this was magic! Flight after flight, we experienced so much.
“These are incredible learnings which will accelerate the Urban Air Mobility market. We were extremely proud of the development of the first electric motor from scratch to delivery in 9 months and 19 days.”
During the programme, Rolls-Royce completed more than 105 ground and flight tests at altitudes up to 100ft and speeds of 30 knots on the propulsion and power distribution systems. It said the performance of its technology throughout testing meant all flights performed without any technical or performance concerns.
A Rolls-Royce Electrical team in Munich developed the electric propulsor comprising a 200kW electric motor and associated power electronics, controller and the power protection and distribution system to generate, distribute and manage the required high electro-mechanical torque. This was then, converted into a tremendous thrust via the platform propellers at low speed.
A key element of this programme was the collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Airbus at the development stage ensuring both companies could define the aircraft and its power and propulsion needs efficiently and effectively.
This project has also demonstrated to us the importance of a system integration design at an early stage, reinforced the need for a simple and safe architecture on a system level and the need for continuous data validation and digital twin technology. This was crucial particularly for the ground-testing phase. These tests are an important step in the journey to certification proving reliability for our technology.
Teofili added: “Our team was brilliant; they were fast, and they were bold! They were working altogether in different competencies, different faculties, working in a giant development style and together with Airbus they produced this incredible success.”
“We are full of confidence, full of trust to project ourselves to the next step. Delivering certified products to Urban Air Mobility Customers, I am proud to be contributing at the birth of the Urban Air Mobility Market.”