The all-electric Rolls-Royce ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft has officially become the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, having set three new world records. The aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph). In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres and also broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds.
During its record-breaking runs, the aircraft clocked up a maximum top speed of 623km/h (387.4mph) making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle. The records have been officially verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records. The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is part of the ACCEL or ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ project funded by Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.
The aircraft was propelled by 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace by aviation energy storage specialist Electroflight and automotive powertrain supplier YASA. The speed achieved by test pilot and Rolls-Royce Director of Flight Operations Phill O’Dell in the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ was more than 213.04 km/h (132 mph) faster than the previous record set by the Siemens eAircraft powered Extra 330 LE Aerobatic aircraft in 2017.
Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said: “Achieving the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce. I would like to thank our partners and especially Electroflight for their collaboration in achieving this pioneering breakthrough. The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the Advanced Air Mobility market. Following the world’s focus on the need for action at COP26, this is another milestone that will help make ‘jet zero’ a reality and supports our ambitions to deliver the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonise transport across air, land and sea.”
Phill O’Dell said: “Breaking the world-record for all-electric flight is a momentous occasion. This is the highlight of my career and is an incredible achievement for whole team. The opportunity to be at the forefront of another pioneering chapter of Rolls-Royce’s story as we look to deliver the future of aviation is what dreams are made of.”