Need proof that the “Spirit of Innovation” from Rolls-Royce is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft? Would holding three new world records suffice? That’s exactly what the British company has done, submitting data to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale showing that their electric plane achieved a top speed of 55.9 kilometres per hour on November 16, 2021. The plane also broke the record for the fastest time to climb to 3000 meters (202 seconds) as well as maintaining a record speed of 532 kilometres per hour for over 15 kilometres. What’s more, during those runs, the Spirit of Innovation clocked a top speed of 623 kilometres per hour.
“Staking the claim for the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce,” said Warren East, the CEO of Rolls-Royce. East continued, stating, “The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has exciting applications for the Advance 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 decarbonize transport across air, land and sea.”
Part of Rolls-Royce’s Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) program, the Spirit of Innovation runs on a 400kW electric powertrain that gets its juice from a power-dense propulsion battery pack. The purpose behind all of this is to test technology that Rolls-Royce hopes to offer to the market for eVTOLs as well as commuter aircraft. Given the speeds that were achieved, it’s evident that a lot of progress has been made in this endeavour. It’s also obvious that this was a pretty thrilling achievement—just ask test pilot Phill O’Dell.
“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. 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.”