Rolls-Royce’s Spirit of Innovation electric plane ‘smashes’ world record

The aerospace giant has carried out three flight runs at an MoD site in Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Rolls-Royce’s battery-powered plane has “smashed” the fastest all-electric flight world record, the aerospace giant has announced. The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft took off from the Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down site in Wiltshire and reached a top speed of 345.4mph over three kilometres, breaking the existing record by 132mph.

Rolls-Royce has submitted the data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation which controls and certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records – for approval. In further runs at the experimental aircraft testing site, the plane reached 330mph over 15 kilometres – 182mph faster than the previous record – and broke the fastest time to climb to 3,000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds, Rolls-Royce said. During the flight runs, the aircraft clocked up a top speed of 387.4mph. The plane was flown over three kilometres by the project’s chief test pilot Phill O’Dell, who was in the Royal Air Force for 17 years. Steve Jones flew the aircraft for the 15km and the time to climb to 3,000 metres record runs that have been submitted. Mr O’Dell 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. 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.” The plane was powered by a 400kW (500 hp) electric powertrain with the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft, Rolls-Royce said. The technology for the plane was developed at Gloucestershire Airport by the ACCEL – or Accelerating the Electrification of Flight – programme, before moving to Wiltshire for the flight testing phase. Partners include Oxford-based electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA and aviation start-up Electroflight in Gloucestershire. Source: ‘BusinessLive’.

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