Rolls-Royce says its electric airplane is world's fastest

Rolls-Royce announced Friday that its Spirit of Innovation electric aircraft topped 387 mph during a recent flight test and is now the fastest all-electric airplane in the world.

The aerospace and technology company, which is separate from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said its electric plane shattered the previous speed record by 132 mph over nearly 2 miles on Tuesday, clocking a speed of 345.4 mph.

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Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East praised those involved in the Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) project, the team behind the Spirit of Innovation. 

“Staking the claim for the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce," East said in a statement. "The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this programme has exciting applications for the Advanced Air Mobility market. Following the world’s focus on the need for action at COP26, this is another milestone that will help make ‘jet zero’ a reality and supports our ambitions to deliver the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonize transport across air, land and sea."

A slew of companies are now developing electric aircraft to convert airplanes to clean energy. Rolls-Royce — which is committed to developing all of its new products to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, and all of its products at net zero by 2050 — first flew the Spirit of Innovation in September.

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The Spirit of Innovation is powered by a more than 500 horsepower electric powertrain and propulsion battery pack that Rolls-Royce called "the most power-dense" pack "ever assembled in aerospace."

The Spirit of Innovation program is funded by Rolls-Royce and the Aerospace Technology Institute, in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

The company has also teamed up with startup tech company Electroflight to develop the aircraft. Stjohn Youngman, the managing director at Electroflight, called the Spirit of Innovation a "landmark project."

“Its success is a fitting tribute to the dedication and innovation of the Electroflight team and our suppliers. Developing the propulsion and battery system, in collaboration with experienced program partners, has resulted in a world class engineering capability that will lead the way towards the decarbonization of air travel," he said in the press release. "Our next step is to adapt this pioneering technology so it can be applied across the wider aerospace industry to deliver a more sustainable way to fly.”