Rolls-Royce claims fastest all-electric plane

The new electric aircraft, Spirit Of Innovation, clocked a top speed of 623km/h (387.4mph). Could it help us reach ‘jet zero’?

Two months after first taking to the skies, Spirit Of Innovation, Rolls-Royce’s all-electric plane, has hit what its makers claim to be a record-breaking top speed of 623km/h (387.4mph).

The aircraft, which is part of the Rolls-Royce-led Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) project, smashed the previously held record for an electric plane by 213.04km/h (132mph).

Rolls-Royce has submitted the data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation that controls and certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records – to confirm that it has broken the world record.

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Spirit Of Innovation achieved this feat thanks to a 400kW electric powertrain and a 6,480-cell, 750V battery.

The aim of ACCEL is to research battery technology for future electric aeroplanes, including commercial aircraft.

“Spirit Of Innovation is a bit different from other existing electric-powered aircraft in that it has been optimised for speed, which means that the batteries are used up very quickly – the aircraft can only fly for around seven to eight minutes with enough power remaining to land with reserves,” said Bill Read, deputy editor of Aerospace, the magazine of The Royal Aeronautical Society.

“Future designs for electric commercial aircraft will be concentrating more on endurance to keep the batteries running for as long as possible to increase range.”

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