Rolls-Royce has been working on an all-electric aircraft, called the “Spirit of Innovation,” and the automaker reports that the plane absolutely broke at least three world records in its latest test flights. For an aircraft that has only been in the air for a few hours in total, that’s pretty impressive – this report comes shortly after two months after the aircraft took off for its maiden flight.
After the flights, the company announced: “We have sent data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Federation of Air Sports that controls and certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records – that at 15:45 (GMT) on 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a maximum speed of 555.9 km / h (345.4 mph) in 3 kilometers, breaking the existing record at 213.04 km / h (132 mph) ”.
They go on to say that the later test flights of the day are also in the record books. While they didn’t propel the rest of the subsequent flights quite as fast, at least one hit 330 mph. They also reported that they broke the fastest time to climb to 3 km altitude in a full minute, recording a 202 second finish, as well as breaking two other speed records at distances of three and fifteen km, respectively. The flights took place at the UK Ministry of Defense Boscombe Downs airfield – an airfield similar to Edwards AFB, used to test new and experimental aircraft.
Spirit of Ingenuity uses liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries and a 400 kW powertrain developed with partners Electroflight and YASA, also from the UK. The single-seater aircraft has an ultralight carbon fiber hull and, while it has the capacity to generate more than 500 hp, it can land with two of its three batteries deactivated.
While this aircraft will not revolutionize the industry, it provides much-needed data for the idea of urban and commuter aircraft. “The characteristics that ‘air taxis’ require from batteries,” said Rolls-Royce, “are very similar to those that were developed for the spirit of innovation.”
The company added: “The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has interesting applications for the Advanced Air Mobility market.”
There is even a practical angle to developing fully electric aircraft. UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The government is proud to support projects like this to leverage the private investment needed to unlock cleaner and greener aircraft that will allow people to fly the way they do now, but in a in a way that reduces emissions. “RR CEO Warren East added:” 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 technological advancements that society needs to decarbonize air transport, land and sea. “