Motoring / Jets

Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Innovation” is A Giant Step Towards Decarbonisation

The maiden flight of its first all-electric powered aircraft is powered by a 400kW powertrain.

Sep 22, 2021 | By Joseph Low
Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation
Image: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has joined the race for sustainable jetting with “Spirit of Innovation”, the company’s new electric aircraft.

“Spirit of Innovation” took over two years of research and development, and recently completed its maiden flight in the UK. The historic event kicked off at the UK Ministry of Defense’s Boscombe Down testing facility in Wiltshire, England. While the entire flight time only lasted for 15 minutes, data collected during this testing phase will be used to better the aircraft. 

“Spirit of Innovation” is powered by a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain, which the company says is the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for a plane.

Rolls-Royce Gloucester Airport
Rolls-Royce ACCEL Electric Flight. Image: Rolls-Royce

No mentions were made regarding the speed of the aircraft during its first flight, but the company is eyeing to break the current record set by the Extra 330LE, which stands at 213 mph. “Spirit of Innovation” is touted to eventually hit a top speed of 300 mph after fine-tuning is done. 

Apart from its goal of smashing the world record as the fastest electric aircraft, Rolls-Royce’s “Spirit of Innovation” represents a giant leap forward for the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation. The project is part of the “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight” (ACCEL) programme which is funded by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and the UK government. 

Despite the project being the only zero-emission aircraft the company has created, Rolls-Royce has already begun working with Scandinavian airline Widerøe to produce an all-electric passenger airliner which is slated to start flying by 2026.

​​“We are focused on producing the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonize transport across air, land and sea, and capture the economic opportunity of the transition to net zero,” Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said in a press release. “This is not only about breaking a world record; the advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has exciting applications for the Urban Air Mobility market and can help make ‘jet zero’ a reality.”

Not only is the aviation industry trying to lean away from the traditional use of fossil fuels to power their aircraft, but the motoring sector has also started its transformation. More companies are doing away with diesel and fossil fuels, and that has brought up the demand for electric vehicles. Looking at how rapidly the industries are changing, it won’t be long before electric-based transportations become the norm in our society.

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