January 27, 2022
Spirit of Innovation officially breaks all-electric speed record
Rolls-Royce on Jan. 20 announced its all-electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft is officially the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, having set two new world records which have now been independently confirmed through the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation, which controls and certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records.
The all-electric aircraft world speed record was set back on November 16, 2021, at 15:45 (GMT), when the Spirit of Innovation aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over three kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph) set by the Siemens eAircraft powered Extra 330 LE Aerobatic aircraft in 2017.
In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the Rolls-Royce aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182 mph) faster than the previous record. Both records have now been officially verified by FIA.
Rolls-Royce explains the Spirit of Innovation, which is part of the UK Government-backed ACCEL or ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ project, also clocked up a maximum top speed of 623 km/h (387.4mph) making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.
The aircraft was propelled on its record breaking runs by 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and what Rolls-Royce describes as the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace. The company is working with aviation energy storage start-up Electroflight and automotive powertrain supplier YASA on this part of the project.
“Achieving the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce,” said Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce. “I would like to thank our partners and especially aviation start-up Electroflight, for their collaboration in achieving this pioneering breakthrough.
“The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has exciting applications for the Advanced Air Mobility market,” continued East. “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.”
Half of the ACCEL project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.