19 November 2021
+VIDEO Rolls-Royce has set three new world speed records for electric aircraft with its NXT-based ‘Spirit of Innovation’.
On 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over 3 kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph), said Rolls-Royce.
In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres. That’s 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record. The aircraft also broke the fastest time to climb to 3000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds.
Rolls-Royce has submitted the data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the World Air Sports Federation which certifies aeronautical records.
“We hope that the FAI will certify and officially confirm the achievements of the team in the near future,” said a statement from Rolls-Royce.
“During its record-breaking runs, the aircraft clocked up a maximum speed of 623 km/h (387.4 mph) which we believe makes the ‘Spirit of Innovation’ the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.”
Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce, added, “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.”
Two test pilots were involved in the records. Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot Phill O’Dell flew the top speed run, while Steve Jones flew it for the 15km and the time to climb to 3000 metres record.
The aircraft was propelled on its record breaking runs by a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace.
Stjohn Youngman, managing directorof Electroflight. “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.”
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.