The world’s fastest all-electric plane is all-British; Rolls Royce, Jaguar and Land Rover at the origin of “innovation”

Rolls-Royce’s “spirit of innovation” is now officially the world’s fastest all-electric plane, the company claims. The aircraft set two new world records which have now been independently verified.

The plane broke the existing record of 213.04 km/h when it reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometers on November 16, 2021.

Further testing was carried out at the Boscombe Down Experimental Aircraft Test Site administered by the UK Ministry of Defence, where the aircraft reached a speed of 532.1 km/h (330 mph) over a distance of 15 kilometers. This time it was 292.8 km/h (182 mph) faster than the previous record.

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the Switzerland-based organization that certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records, has now officially verified two records set by the aircraft.

The plane, which is part of the UK government-backed ACCEL or ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ programme, also reached a top speed of 623 km/h (387.4 mph) during its record runs, which makes it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle, according to Rolls-Royce.

Warren East, CEO of 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 in particular the aeronautical 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. This is a new step that will help make jet zero a reality and support our ambitions to deliver the technological breakthroughs society needs to decarbonize air, land and sea transport. »

“Most Powerful” Battery

The Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate, UK, is funding the ACCEL project.

The aircraft was powered by a 400 kW (500+hp) electric motor and is equipped with what is called the most powerful propulsion battery pack ever made in aerospace. Rolls-Royce has collaborated with Electroflight, an aircraft energy storage startup, and YASA, an automotive powertrain supplier on this.

(Photo: Rolls Royce)

As well as being a magnificent technological feat, the project and world record provided critical data for future electric power and propulsion systems for use in urban air mobility (UAM) and hybrid-electric transport aircraft. .

The requirements for ‘air taxi’ batteries, for example, are remarkably similar to those designed for ‘spirit of innovation’.

Two other British companies contributed to the ACCEL programme: Jaguar Land Rover, which lent its fully electric, zero-emission Jaguar I-PACE cars as towing and assistance vehicles, and Bremont, the luxury watchmaker, which was the partner official timing for the record attempt.

Gary Elliott, CEO of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), said: “The ACCEL project demonstrates that strategic investment in technology and innovation in the UK can achieve extraordinary results and puts us firmly on the right track. the decarbonisation of passenger flights in the future. .

This achievement by Rolls-Royce, Electroflight and YASA will resonate for many years to come and inspire the next generation of aerospace engineers. They deserve their place in the record books and ATI is proud to have played our part in this regard. Congratulations to the whole team.”

Beat the previous record

Rolls-Royce has a long history of attempting and setting flight speed records, beginning with the Schneider Trophy, which was awarded annually to the winner of a seaplane and seaplane race, in the early 1930s.

The speed achieved by test pilot and Rolls-Royce Director of Flight Operations Phill O’Dell in the “spirit of innovation” was over 213.04 km/h (132 mph). It broke the previous record set in 2017 by the Extra 330 LE aerobatic plane, powered by a Siemens electric motor.

(PHOTO: Rolls Royce)

According to Rolls-Royce’s press release, there has never been such a significant speed gain in such a short time in the history of the World Air Sports Federation (FAI). This illustrates the breakneck pace at which aerospace electrification is progressing.

Phill O’Dell said: “Breaking the world record for all-electric flight is a momentous occasion. It’s the highlight of my career and it’s an incredible achievement for the whole team. The opportunity to be at the forefront of another pioneering chapter in Rolls-Royce history, as we seek to deliver the future of aviation, is what dreams are made of.

The Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation aircraft, according to UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, is testament to the UK’s remarkable credentials for innovation. This record will demonstrate the potential of electric flight and help develop technology that could make it a reality, he said.

He added that the government is happy to support projects like this which will help unlock the private investment needed to unlock cleaner and greener aircraft, allowing people to travel as they currently do while reducing emissions.

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