The First Electric Aircraft Just Took Flight

The world’s first electric airplane has just completed its maiden flight. And it’s made by Rolls Royce!
Written by Alex Healey
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Mar 7, 2022
The H3PS design team.
For most people, “
electric vehicle
” is just another way of saying “electric car,” but as technology improves, we will increasingly see other modes of electric transportation, including electric airplanes.
In fact, the world’s first electric aircraft has just taken its first flight. The P2010 H3PS is a hybrid-electric plane, designed by Rolls Royce, in cooperation with Tecnam Aircraft, and Austrian engine specialists Rotax.
Unbelievably, this means Rolls Royce has rolled out an electric plane before its first electric car, which is
expected in 2023
. Read on to learn more about the P2010 H3PS, and why it represents a major milestone in the journey towards carbon-neutral flights, and maybe even
flying cars
!

The world’s first electric airplane

Smart Energy International
reports the H3PS (which somehow stands for “High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain”), was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. 
The main goal was to break the world’s electric speed record, but the project outgrew these ambitions, and ended up creating a blueprint for future green aircraft models. The plane uses a 104kW Rotax 915 engine with a 30kW Rolls-Royce electric motor to generate 180 horsepower. It has space for four people, including the pilot.
Following a successful first flight, Tecnam Aircraft announced it had achieved its objectives, and believed it could scale up the technology for use in larger planes. 

The future of electric air travel

Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce’s electrical division, said his company is committed to delivering sustainable aviation, but the P2010 H3PS it will not be sold commercially. 
He described the project as “hugely beneficial (in helping build) our capabilities in delivering all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for the advanced air mobility market”.
Tecnam’s Managing Director, Giovanni Pascale, echoed these sentiments, saying “I look forward to seeing H3PS inspire more innovation and drive our industry forward with cleaner, more efficient technologies.” 
The timing of the first hybrid-electric flight is interesting. With several companies
working to develop flying cars
, there have been questions about how these “dual transportation vehicles” will fare in an increasingly electric world. It’s too soon to know for sure, but the H3PS may have just provided an answer.
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