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500 HP Rolls-Royce Electric Aircraft Flies Closer to World Record Attempt

Sometime over the next three months, British aerospace company Rolls-Royce should be attempting to fly an electric aircraft at speeds of 300 mph (483 kph), setting a record in the process. For that to happen though, the airplane, named Spirit of Innovation, first has to take to the sky. And it just did this week, moving one step closer to its goal.
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On Wednesday, Rolls-Royce announced the completion of the first-ever flight of the winged machine, and a successful one at that. According to the available info, the Spirit took off from the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down site in the UK, and was in the air for about 15 minutes. We are not told what speed it reached, or what other systems were tested during the brief stunt in the clear British skies.

The Spirit is powered by a battery with 6,000 cells, “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft” as Rolls-Royce describes it. The battery powers axial-flux electric motors manufactured by YASA and rated at over 500 horsepower.

The British company is not doing this whole record thing just for kicks and laughs. And it’s not doing it solely for “the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonization” either. It plans on making the tech and selling it as “products for these exciting new markets,” meaning electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), commuter aircraft, and air taxis.

For instance, Rolls-Royce is working with a Scandinavian regional airline for the development of “an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market,” which should be able to enter service in 2026.

As for the record attempt of the Spirit of Innovation, no exact date has been set yet, but rest assured we’re going to come back to this as soon as more info about Rolls’ plans is revealed.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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