Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation aircraft broke world electric speed record

  • Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation easily broke the electric speed record in 2021
  • It surpassed its predecessor “by a phenomenal amount”
  • And the footage of it it in action are stunning

Published on Mar 06, 2024 at 9:18 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Mar 06, 2024 at 9:18 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Adam Gray

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation broke the electric speed record in 2021 “by a phenomenal amount” – and this incredible footage shows it in action.

It was described by Rolls-Royce itself as the “world’s fastest all-electric aircraft”.

Why? It set three new world records with “cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs”.

READ MORE! Piper says deliveries of fastest ever single engine aircraft will begin ‘immediately’ after certification received

The record attempt took place in November 2021, over Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, UK.

The heavily modified sports kit plane was equipped with the latest in battery technology and an all-electric powertrain.

It had a 400kW (500 hp) electric powertrain and the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace – making it exceptionally fast.

It reached a top speed of 387.4 mph (623 km/h), smashing a world speed record for an electric aircraft that had lasted just four years.

“If you put 550 horsepower in a little airplane like this it’s going to go like the clappers and it does,” said Electroflight pilot, Steve Jones.

And while it has nothing on the top secret fastest plane ever, SR-72 “Son of Blackbird”, that’s capable of 4000mph speeds reportedly set to debut – it was a historic achievement.

The team labeled the record a sign we are entering the “third age of aviation”.

In fact, they believed it was confirmation that “electric aviation is absolutely and utterly here to stay”.

The Spirit of Innovation took three years to develop as part of Accel from 2018.

The $8 million R&D program was joint funded by the UK Government and Rolls-Royce.

Accel involved several companies and organizations, including aviation battery systems company, Electroflight, and electric motor company YASA.

The WMG Energy Innovation Center helped Electroflight test and develop the batteries for Spirit of Innovation.

“Electrification of flight is an important part of our sustainability strategy as we aim for net zero carbon by 2050,” said Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical.

“The capabilities developed by Accel will help position Rolls-Royce as a technology leader offering power systems to the Urban Air Mobility market.”

Phill O’Dell, director of flight operations at Rolls-Royce, also said: “It’s a great aeroplane to go and break records with.”

“But also to prove the future and the next steps for electric aviation.”

Matheu Parr, customer business director at Rolls-Royce Electrical added: “The key thing about breaking the record is about demonstrating how fast this technology is going and therefore how soon it’s going to be in all our lives.

“This technology offers us the opportunity to start traveling in a really net zero way.”

Speaking on fast, supersonic planes seem to be everywhere in 2024.

For example, Airbus are developing supersonic plane so fast you’ll blink and your journey is over or NASA’s recently revealed and “super quiet” X-59.


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.