The company claims the aircraft has “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled” consisting of 6,000 cells, which power three electric motors to a single three-blade propeller. Officials expect the airplane to surpass 300 mph later this year.
The sleek airframe is designed to invoke the classic racing aircraft of the 1930s. The flight took place at the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense field, Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England, which has a history of hosting experimental flights. The Spirit of Innovation will now enter an intense flight training phase in anticipation of setting a world record. The aircraft project began in 2019 and is part of the Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) program funded, in part, by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and its government.
“The first flight of the Spirit of Innovation is a great achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce. 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,” said Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce. “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.”