Rolls-Royce looks to electrify future engineers

Posted on 19 April, 2021 by Advance 

Rolls-Royce is offering future engineers the opportunity to design the helmet for the pilot of its all-electric - world-record attempting - ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft.


The ‘Spirit of Innovation’.
Copyright Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce is developing an all-electric plane that will be aiming for the record books with a target speed of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH). Inspiring tomorrow’s scientists and engineers is a key aim of the ACCEL programme – short for 'Accelerating the Electrification of Flight' – which is behind the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft. To help achieve this, Rolls-Royce are launching a competition to design the helmet that our test pilot will be wearing throughout flight-testing and for that all-important world-record attempt.

Rolls-Royce will be working with fly2help, a charity that supports our aims to engage with young people and get them thinking about a possible career in aviation.

There will be two categories – one for ages 5 to 11 and one for ages 12 to 18 – and the winners will have their design jointly inspire the final design applied to the helmet.

The winners will also get the opportunity to see the plane for themselves and meet Rolls-Royce test pilot and Director of Flight Operations Phill O’Dell and the wider engineering team.

Phill O’Dell said: “The opportunity to fly our all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft for the world-record attempt will be the pinnacle of my career; not only because it represents being at the forefront of advanced electrical technology, but because of the fantastic opportunity it gives us to inspire the next generation of aviation pioneers.”

For many years, Rolls-Royce has recognised the importance of engaging young people to consider careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We have over 1,400 STEM Ambassadors and partnerships with organisations such as the Scouts and Code First Girls. In addition to this competition, we have developed downloadable materials aimed at primary school children around the ACCEL project. These are linked to the UK curriculum and everything can be downloaded from our website.

Phill added: “The Spirit of Innovation aircraft is one of a kind, so it is only fitting that the helmet I wear should also be unique, reflecting the pioneering nature of the project. I have worked with fly2help for many years to showcase the exciting career options available in aviation, so it made sense to work with them on this competition.”

Charity Manager, fly2help, Sharon Walters said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Rolls-Royce ‘Design a Helmet’ competition.  The all-electric world-record attempt is an incredible opportunity to demonstrate the exciting opportunities in aviation which is a key aim of fly2help as we look to encourage children’s future career ambitions.”

The ACCEL programme includes key partners YASA, the electric motor and controller manufacturer and aviation start-up Electroflight. The ACCEL team has continued to innovate while adhering to the UK Government’s social distancing and other health guidelines. Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

The Spirit of Innovation will have the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, providing enough energy to fuel 250 homes or fly 200 miles (London to Paris) on a single charge. The characteristics that ‘air-taxis’ require from batteries are very similar to what is being developed for the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ so that it can reach record-breaking speeds. Rolls-Royce will be using the technology from the project and applying it to products for the market.