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Rolls-Royce plane smashes records for electric aircraft

23 November, 2021

Rolls-Royce claims to have smashed the world speed record for electrically-powered aircraft with its Spirit of Innovation plane which recently hit a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over a distance of 3km – 213.04 km/h (132mph) faster than the previous record set by a Siemens-powered plane in 2017. The Rolls aircraft also recorded 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15km – 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3,000m by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds. Rolls-Royce has submitted the data for verification to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) which controls and certifies aeronautical records.

During its runs, the aircraft clocked up a top speed of 623 km/h (387.4 mph) which, Rolls Royce believes, makes it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle ever.

The aircraft was propelled on its record-breaking runs by a 400kW electric powertrain and the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aerospace application. Rolls-Royce worked on the project with the axial-flux motor developer Yasa, and the aviation energy storage specialist Electroflight.

The Spirit of Innovation has been developed as part of the UK government-backed Accel (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project. Half of the project’s funding has been provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, and Innovate UK.

Rolls-Royce believes that its Spirit of Innovation is the world’s fastest electrically powered vehicle

“Staking the claim for the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the Accel team and Rolls-Royce,” says the company’s CEO, Warren East. “The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the advanced air mobility market. 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.”

“Electric flight is set to be as transformative for mobility as the jet engine was 70 years ago,” adds Yasa’s founder and chief technology officer, Dr Tim Woolmer. “It’s thrilling to see our ultra-high performance, super-low weight electric motors powering the Spirit of Innovation to these great speeds, and to know that collaborative projects like Accel take us one step closer to emissions-free electric flight becoming a commercial reality for all.”

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