Rolls-Royce’s all-electric Spirit of Innovation recently took to the skies for the first time. The company hopes to use the sleek and stylish e-plane to set a new world speed record of over 300 mph later this year.
The aircraft took off from the UK Ministry of Defence’s storied Boscombe Down site, and flew for approximately 15 minutes. “The first flight marks the beginning of an intense flight-testing phase in which we will be collecting valuable performance data on the aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system,” says Rolls-Royce.
The Spirit of Innovation features a 400 kW (500 hp) electric powertrain, and what Rolls-Royce calls “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft.”
Rolls-Royce is offering its customers a complete electric propulsion system for platforms such as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) and commuter aircraft, and plans to apply the technology from the ACCEL project to products for these markets. The company says the characteristics that air taxis require from batteries are very similar to what it’s developing for the Spirit of Innovation.
Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are currently working with Widerøe, a regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which is scheduled to be ready for revenue service in 2026.
“This is not only about breaking a world record—the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make ‘jet zero’ a reality,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East.