Rolls-Royce’s all-electric aircraft sets new speed record

by Sam Phillips, Autocar UK 26 Nov 2021


Rolls-Royce has tested a new all-electric aircraft, which it says could be the fastest plane of its type in the world. 

The Spirit of Innovation aircraft achieved a top speed of 387.4mph / 623.45kph during one of three test runs in Wiltshire, which is believed to be a new world record.

Over a distance of 1.9 miles (3km) the all-electric plane reached a top speed of 345.4mph. It then hit 330mph over 9.3 miles (15km). 

Aerospace company Rolls-Royce, separate entity from Rolls-Royce the car manufacturer, said that its aircraft travelled more than 132mph faster than the previous record set by the Siemens eAircraft-powered Extra 330 LE Aerobatic in 2017. 

The Derby-based firm also claims to have broken the record for the fastest climb to 3000 metres by an electric plane by 60 seconds, with a recorded time of 202 seconds.

Spirit of Innovation has a 400kW battery, with a power output of just under 500bhp. Rolls-Royce says this is the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace.

The test flights were undertaken by test pilot and director of operations Phill O’Dell. He said: “Flying the Spirit of Innovation at these incredible speeds and believing we have broken the world-record for all-electric flight is a momentous occasion. 

“This is the highlight of my career and is an incredible achievement for the whole team.”

Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said: “Staking the claim for the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce. 

“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.”

Rolls-Royce has submitted their data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) - the World Air Sports Federation. The firm hopes that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the results as new World Record speeds in the near future.


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