Rolls-Royce builds aircraft engines, not aircraft (or even automobiles—that’s Rolls-Royce Motorcars, which has been a completely separate entity for the last 20 years). The company therefore is expecting to partner with an airframer as it continues developing the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) concept that it introduced last week at the Farnborough International Airshow in England—where the Aston Martin Volante Vision Concept, created in partnership with Rolls-Royce, also debuted.
Many aircraft makers will be familiar with the engine used in the vehicle’s current design. The M250 and its earlier variants have powered more than 170 different helicopter and airplane models (civilian and military), according to Rolls-Royce. It’s a gas turbine model that, in the concept’s current design, is positioned in the rear of the vehicle and is modified to serve as part of a hybrid gas-electric propulsion system. The engine generates electricity that powers six propellers, and the electricity can be stored in a battery that is charged by the engine.
The wings, which hold four of the propellers, rotate 90 degrees so that the vehicle can take off and land vertically. (The tilt-rotor design has been around since at least the mid-1980s, when Bell Helicopter and Boeing began developing the V-22 Osprey, which has been powered by a Rolls-Royce engine.)