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‘Spirit of Innovation’ stakes world record claim

Posted on 19 Nov 2021 and read 668 times
‘Spirit of Innovation’ stakes world record claimRolls-Royce believes its all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft is the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, having unofficially set three new world records earlier this week. The data has been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) — the World Air Sports Federation who control and certify world aeronautical and astronautical records — that the aircraft reached a top speed of 345.4mph over 3km, smashing the existing record by 132mph.

In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 330mph over 15km — 182mph faster than the previous record — and broke the fastest time to climb to 3,000m by 60sec with a time of 202sec, according to the data. Rolls-Royce hopes that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements in the near future.

During its record-breaking runs, the aircraft clocked up a maximum speed of 387.4mph which — if ratified — will make the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ the world’s fastest-ever all-electric vehicle.

Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce, said: “Staking the claim for 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 especially Electroflight for their collaboration in achieving this pioneering breakthrough.

The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the advanced air mobility market. 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 technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonise transport across air, land and sea.”

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.

The aircraft was propelled on its record breaking runs by a 400kW electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace. Rolls-Royce worked in partnership with aviation energy storage specialist www.electro-flight.com
Electroflight and automotive powertrain supplier www.yasa.com YASA. As well as a stunning technical achievement, the project and world record runs provided important data for future electric power and propulsion systems for all-electric urban air mobility and hybrid-electric commuter aircraft.

Stjohn Youngman, Electroflight managing director, said: “We are delighted to have played an integral role in this landmark project. Its success is a fitting tribute to the dedication and innovation of the Electroflight team and our suppliers. Developing the propulsion and battery system, in collaboration with experienced programme partners, has resulted in a world-class engineering capability that will lead the way towards the decarbonisation of air travel. Our next step is to adapt this pioneering technology so it can be applied across the wider aerospace industry to deliver a more sustainable way to fly.”

Test pilot and Rolls-Royce Director of Flight Operations Phill 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.”

While all three organisations share a passionate pioneering spirit, Rolls-Royce through the development process has learnt from the motorsport background of both partners and in particular the pace of start-up Electroflight. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce has shared expertise and technology with its partners including the rigorous safety and testing methods needed by the civil aviation industry — this combination has helped turn a concept into a world record breaker.

Dr Tim Woolmer, YASA’s Chief Technology Officer and Founder said, “Electric flight is set to be as transformative for mobility as the jet engine was 70 years ago. 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.”

The ACCEL programme has also been supported by Jaguar Land Rover which loaned an all-electric zero emission Jaguar I-PACE cars as towing and support vehicles and Bremont, the luxury watchmaker, wich acted as the official timing partner for the record attempt. ]

The aircraft took off from the MoD’s Boscombe Down site, which is managed by QinetiQ and flew profiles according to the FAI guidelines for record attempts in the Powered Aeroplane C-1C Electric class. Test Pilot, Electroflight Steve Jones flew the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ aircraft for the 15km and the time to climb to 3,000m record runs that have been submitted.