Last week Rolls-Royce took the all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ plane out for a run and set what is tentatively the record for fastest electric-propelled vehicle on planet earth. The company says it submitted three new world record attempts for verification to the World Air Sports Federation. On November 16th the plane reached a top speed of 345.4 mph over 3 kilometers, an average of 330 miles per hour over 15 kilometers, and the fastest climb to 3000 meters, which was accomplished in 202 seconds. Each of these alleged records absolutely obliterated the standing record.
During the process of reaching these records, the Spirit of Innovation achieved a recorded top speed of 387.4 miles per hour. Conveniently, back in October, the Team Vesco/Revolt Little Giant seta land speed record for electric vehicles of 353.87 mile per hour at Bonneville. That a car on salt is nearly as fast as the world’s fastest electric air plane is totally bonkers to me. You’d think planes would be faster as they have less friction to overcome, and can run at higher altitudes where the air is thinner.
Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of development in the electric plane world, because I’d really love to experience a future where I can ride on an airplane which doesn’t emit a single gram of carbon dioxide. Even if it’s just local journeys for the foreseeable future, as it would be hard to get enough energy for a trans-Atlantic onboard, I’d be incredibly stoked.
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.”
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Rolls-Royce partnered with automotive powertrain supplier YASA and EV plane specialist Electroflight to make this record happen. The company says the motor powering this project is a 500 horsepower unit with “the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace.” If the progress humanity has made on EVs over the last decade is any indication, this is just the beginning of something amazing. I don’t even really like planes, but this is pretty freakin’ cool.