|Role||Electric aircraft testbed|
|National origin||United Kingdom|
|First flight||15 September 2021|
|Developed from||Sharp Nemesis NXT|
Rolls-Royce is developing a racing aircraft, intended to fly in 2020, to gain the all-electric air speed record, targeting over 480 km/h (260 kn). Designed at Gloucestershire Airport, the project is partly funded by the UK government and involves partners such as electric motor and controller manufacturer YASA Limited and aviation start-up Electroflight.
The electric aircraft record is 182 kn (337 km/h), set in 2017 by a Siemens powered Extra 330. The team refers to the 1931 Schneider Trophy won by a R-R-powered Supermarine S.6B, reaching 298 kn (552 km/h).
On 15 September 2021, Rolls-Royce announced the aircraft, named "Spirit of Innovation", had successfully completed its first flight, flying from MoD Boscombe Down for fifteen minutes. It subsequently reached a top speed of 623 km/h (336 kn), 555 km/h (300 kn) over 3 km (1.6 nmi), 532 km/h (287 kn) over 15 km (8.1 nmi), and was able to climb to 3,000 m (9,840 ft) in 3min 22s.
The 24 ft (7.3 m) span aircraft is powered by three high power density electric motors driving a single three-blade propeller spinning at 2,400 RPM, designed and manufactured by YASA, running at 750 volts and delivering over 400 kW (536 hp) combined from its 6,480-cell battery pack with cork insulation. Its cooled battery pack should have the highest energy density for an aircraft and should allow a 320 km; 170 nmi range.
It is derived from the carbonfibre Sharp Nemesis NXT racer, cruising at 282 kn (522 km/h) with a 350hp (260kW) piston engine, but reaching 355 kn (657 km/h) with a highly tuned engine. Battery power output will be 500 hp (373 kW) continuous, reaching 750kW (1,006hp) at maximum power. The battery, motors and control equipment weigh the same as the regular engine and fuel tank while the NXT has a maximum take-off weight of 1,200kg (2,645lb). Its 216 KWh battery pack weighs 1350 kg.
- Michael Gubisch (9 January 2019). "Rolls-Royce aims to break speed record with electric single-seater". Flightglobal.
- "Introducing ACCEL". Rolls-Royce Plc. 2 January 2019.
- "Rolls-Royce's all-electric 'Spirit of Innovation' takes to the skies for the first time". Rolls-Royce. 15 September 2021.
- Dominic Perry (19 November 2021). "Rolls-Royce waits on ratification for Spirit of Innovation speed records". Flightglobal.
- "Spirit of Innovation Factsheet" (PDF). Rolls-Royce.
- Prachi Patel (28 January 2020). "The Battery Design Smarts Behind Rolls Royce's Ultrafast Electric Airplane". IEEE Spectrum.