For decades now, Rolls Royce has held itself as a solid and reputable manufacturer of luxury vehicles. And when we hear the name “Rolls Royce,” we are instantly reminded of those sleek, polished, and powerful motor vehicles we see in movies. But it is not just on the ground that they are making raves.
The British aerospace company Rolls-Royce Plc has recently made it into the aviation history books. Yes, we are talking about the “Spirit of Innovation” aircraft.
This fully-electric propeller plane has smashed the world record for the fastest speed ever achieved by an electric plane. The single-seater aircraft has recorded mammoth speeds of over 556-623 km/ hour, over a distance of up to 3 kilometers. Overall, the newly-launched jet engine has garnered three new world records. And all three feats have been recognized and certified by the Federation Aeronatique Internationale (FAI).
And these feats are not new for a massive company like Rolls-Royce. They have a rich history of breaking flying speed records, dating back to the 1930s. And their recent achievement has mirrored every achievement they ever made by a country mile. Together with Shoppok – one of the largest internet platforms, we try to find how the “Spirit of Innovation” started and what we can expect in the future.
The Spirit of Innovation is a new invention in the field of aviation. So, you can’t expect to see multiple seats as it is not your typical commuter plane. It was designed and built for specific research and experiments. The aircraft has only a single seat, and it is fully electric propelled by dense power motors.
Overall, this aircraft measures over 7.3 meters in length. And it runs at 750 volts and 400 kW of horsepower, all coming from its 6480-cell battery combination. With the Spirit of Innovation and its state-of-the-art battery cooling system, you can expect high energy densities.
The Spirit of Innovation has a similar design to the Sharp Nemesis NXT by Air-C-Race.
Three years ago, Rolls-Royce Plc teamed up with Electroflight and YASA to start working on an electric aircraft. The aptly named Spirit of Innovation is one of the most significant projects of Rolls-Royce’s ACCEL program (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight).
The ATI (Aerospace Training Institute) provided half of the funding for this project.
The aircraft was finally launched on September 15, 2021.
The Spirit of Innovation took to the skies on September 15, 2021. The launch took place at the Boscombe Down flight testing site owned by the UK Ministry of Defence.
While soaring the Amesbury skies for about 15 minutes, the Spirit of Innovation broke and set three new aviation world records. Let us take a closer look at these achievements.
· Firstly, the flight recorded a speed of 555.9 km/h, covering a distance of over 3 kilometers. This beats the current world record set in 2017 by the Extra 330 LE Aerobatic plane, which stands at 213.04 km/h.
· Secondly, in further test runs, the flight also recorded a speed of over 532.1 km/h over 15 kilometers. This is more than half the current 239.3 km/h in the 15 kilometers range.
· And thirdly, the engine was the fastest to reach a height of 3000 meters clocking in at 202 seconds. This recorded time is a minute less than the previous record of 262 seconds.
Furthermore, during the trial runs, the plane reached a maximum speed of 623 km/h. This certainly makes the Spirit of Innovation the fastest electrically-run plane. The company submitted its readings to the FAI and got the green light shortly.
The flight’s maiden voyage was undertaken by Phil O’Dell, the director of operations at Rolls-Royce. O’Dell expressed his delight with this achievement, stating that it was the ‘highlight’ of his career and a proud moment for the team. He added further that he dreams of more opportunities to contribute to the future of aviation.
During this venture, the ACCEL program also received multiple support from various well-known brands. One of them was Jaguar Land Rover, who supplied all-electric zero-emission I-PACE cars for towing and lifting support. Furthermore, Bremont, the deluxe watchmaking brand, was the official timing partner during the record attempt.
Rolls-Royce has stated foremost that the flight is the start of a line of intense tests. These tests will help obtain performance data on such aircraft’s electrical power and propulsion system. CEO Warren East also hopes the findings and the necessary technology will help build a “jet-zero” industry.
Such innovations would also help tackle climate change and push the boundaries of low carbon flight. It would also be an incredible breakthrough if we could decarbonize our modes of transport on land, air, and sea.
Dr. Tim Woolmer of YASA expressed his thrill stating that it was a proud moment to see their technology power a ground-breaking achievement. He also hailed the ACCEL program noting their effort at taking us “one step closer” to this dream. And this dream is to bring aviation to new heights of sustainability.
Rolls-Royce has stayed firm to ensure net-zero carbon emissions since joining the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign. They have also promised to work on products that will be compatible with net-zero operations in the next 10 years. And by the next two decades, they aim to make all their products in the same manner.
And if there are further developments, we could use this technology to provide sustainable flying vehicles in the future. It won’t be long before the flying cars we see in movies are a thing and become part of our everyday lives.
Rolls-Royce’s ground-breaking accomplishments with the Spirit of Innovation aircraft show the world of the UK’s capabilities when it comes to innovation. The World Air Sports Federation (FAI) record attempts have never had such readings as significant as the Spirit of Innovation did on its test flight. This shows us that aerospace’s electrification is developing at such a swift pace.
The collaboration with YASA and Electroflight also paid off significantly. Rolls-Royce has gathered notable insights from the motorsport background that both the partners had to offer. The trio has put their minds together to develop a concept and turn it into a record-breaking wonder of aviation.
The achievement has indeed unlocked the possibilities of flying vehicles as an everyday mode of transport. And all parties involved have set long-term goals for the future. And looking at their prospects, it certainly looks exciting. But for the time being, we’ll have to wait and see.