Rolls-Royce is creating hundreds of jobs as part of an £80 million project to develop storage units for future generations of electric planes.
The engineering giant said some 300 jobs will be created across the Midlands over the next decade developing energy storage systems for zero emissions flights.
The company is working on motors that it hopes will be able to power aircraft for 100 miles on a single charge.
The project, it said, would strengthen its position as “the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for aviation”.
The global operator – which has customers in more than 150 countries, including 400 airlines and 160 armed forces and navies – has pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations by 2030 (excluding product testing).
It hopes its energy storage systems will power electric vertical take-off (eVTOL) aircraft which will be used to get people around cities and built-up areas, and commuter planes with up to 19 seats.
By 2035, Rolls-Royce wants to be installing more than 5 million battery cells a year into aircraft around the world.
Rob Watson, director of electrical, at Rolls-Royce, said: “This multi-million-pound investment by Rolls-Royce over the next decade is another demonstration of our ambitions in electrification.
“We are developing a portfolio of energy storage solutions to complement our electrical propulsion systems.
“This will ensure that we can offer our customers a complete electric propulsion system for their platform, whether that is an eVTOL or a commuter aircraft.
“It will enable us to be a ‘one-stop shop’ for all-electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems, which is incredibly exciting as these new markets develop and expand.”
Rolls-Royce has already designed 10 different aerospace battery systems, four of which have been used to power three aircraft on flights totalling more than 250 hours.
Two further designs will complete their first flights this year, including one which will be used in the world’s fastest all-electric plane, the 300mph “Spirit of Innovation”, developed under the ACCEL – or Accelerating the Electrification of Flight – programme.
Partners include Oxford-based electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA, and aviation start-up Electroflight, in Gloucestershire.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said: “Battery pack design is a mechanical, thermal and containment design challenge and there has to be a strong focus on safety and low weight.
“These aspects are core to all the products that Rolls-Royce has a long history of producing in aerospace.
“This makes us ideally placed to deliver such industry-leading solutions.
“Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe – the largest regional airline in Scandinavia – to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is planned to be ready for revenue service in 2026.
“Rolls-Royce will deliver the entire electrical propulsion system including an energy storage system for the new P-VOLT aircraft.”