25 Jan 2022

FAI ratifies two new speed records set by British all-electric aircraft

Two speed records set by British pilots Phill O’Dell and Steve Jones in the electric powered aircraft ‘Spirit of Innovation’ have been ratified by FAI. 

The aircraft falls into the C-1c category (take-off weight 1000-1750kg) in Group 6: electric. The first record was set by Steve Jones who reached a speed of 532,1 km/h over a 15km course at the UK government’s experimental aircraft test site, Boscombe Down, on 11 November 2021.

Following this achievement came Phill O’Dell who took to the controls of ‘Spirit of Innovation’ to reach an impressive 555.9km/h over a set course of 3km, beating the existing record in the category (set by Germany’s Walter Kampsmann in 2017) by 213.04 km/h.

About ‘Spirit of Innovation’

  • Battery cells: 6480 (sufficient to charge 7500 phones)
  • Airframe: Nemesis NXT
  • Propellor Rotation: 2200rpm
  • Motor Power: 400kw

The aircraft is a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and the UK’s ACCEL ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ programme and is partially funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce said:

“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 decarbonise transport across air, land and sea.”

Hans Schwebel, President of the FAI General Aviation Commission, commented:

"It is interesting to see a collaboration between a commercial enterprise such as Rolls-Royce and government organisations to invest funds and expertise into the creation of innovative technologies that adopt sustainable energy sources."

Rolls-Royce is also working alongside airframer Tecnam together with Widerøe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, on an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, which it is hoped will be ready for revenue service in 2026.

Header Image: Steve Jones Electroflight Test Pilot flying the Rolls-Royce’s ACCEL project - Spirit of Innovation plane. Credit JohnMDibbs