Rolls-Royce has a rich history of air speed record attempts and breaking records, dating back to the Schneider Trophy competitions of 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 more than 213.04 km/h (132 mph) faster than the previous record set by the Siemens eAircraft in 2017. Never in the history of the FAI record attempts has there been such a significant increase in speed over such a short time, highlighting the rapid pace at which electrification of aerospace is advancing.
Towards the end of November Rolls-Royce indicated that the Spirit of Innovation is part of the ACCEL or Accelerating the Electrification of Flight project. Half of the project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.
Spirit of Innovation, the aircraft, was propelled on its recent record breaking runs by a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace. Rolls-Royce worked in partnership with aviation energy storage specialist Electroflight and automotive powertrain supplier YASA.