Skip to main content

Book your free admission ticket now to visit the museum. Schools and groups can book free tickets here

World's fastest electric aircraft lands at the Science Museum

  • Spirit of Innovation, a world record-breaking all-electric aircraft, is now on display at the Science Museum in London.
  • It joins several innovative aircraft – from Amy Johnson’s Gypsy Moth biplane to the famous Spitfire and Britain's first jet-powered aircraft – already on free public display in the museum.

Spirit of Innovation 

From 1 November 2023
Free display

The world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, Spirit of Innovation, is now on display at the Science Museum in London. Suspended as if in mid-flight, the aircraft is a fitting choice as the final object in Making the Modern World, a major gallery which presents advances in science and technology from the birth of the Industrial Revolution to the present day. Visitors can also study the innovative electric powertrain that propelled the aircraft to record breaking speeds. 

Spirit of Innovation holds the all-electric aircraft world record for highest top speed over 3 kilometres, with an average of 555.9km/h (345.4 mph), breaking the previous record by over 200 kilometres per hour. Powered by a lightweight and energy efficient 400kW electric powertrain, Spirit of Innovation also set a new record for the fastest climb by an electric aircraft to 3 kilometres. Rolls-Royce created the aircraft as part of the Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) project, in collaboration with Electroflight (now part of Evolito), YASA, and the Aerospace Technology Institute. 

The record-breaking airplane joins several innovative aircraft already on display in Making the Modern World. These include the Lockheed 10A Electra, which, with its low-wing all-metal monoplane construction, helped revolutionise air transport in the mid-twentieth century, and the Short SC 1, the first British fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing aircraft and an early precursor to the Harrier jump jet. Spirit of Innovation’s form echoes the famous Spitfire and the Supermarine S.6B, a previous air speed record holder, both of which can be seen in the museum’s Flight gallery. 

Doug Millard, Deputy Keeper of Technology and Engineering at the Science Museum, said: ‘The graceful form of the Spirit of Innovation belies the ingenuity that has gone into its record-breaking design. The Science Museum is delighted to display this aircraft as it both celebrates engineering excellence and illustrates how science and technology can help address climate change.’

Matheu Parr, Rolls-Royce Customer Director said: ‘Achieving the all-electric world-speed record was a momentous occasion and it was an incredible achievement for the Rolls-Royce team and our partners Electroflight (now Evolito), YASA and the Aerospace Technology Institute. It is fantastic that the Spirit of Innovation will now be displayed in the Science Museum where we hope it can inspire people on what can be done today to enable net-zero aviation.’

Chris Harris, CEO at Evolito said: ‘We’re proud to see the record-breaking Spirit of Innovation displayed in the Science Museum. The project demonstrated not only the power of electric flight, but also the ability to innovate a new all-electric powertrain at record-breaking speed. The commercialisation of electric flight is accelerating and Spirit of Innovation is rightfully being recognised as a significant milestone toward the arrival of emissions-free air travel.’

Spirit of Innovation goes on display in the museum on National Engineering Day, which this year focuses on the vital role engineers play in creating sustainable solutions for the future, and forms part of the Science Museum Group’s public programme exploring the science of climate change. Visitors to the Science Museum can also explore engineers’ creative ways of thinking, central to developing amazing innovations which can change the world, in Engineers, a free gallery dedicated to ground-breaking engineering innovations. 

Ends

Images

Notes to Editors

For more information or to book free museum entrance tickets, visit our website. For further information and interview requests, please contact Laura Nebout through laura.nebout@sciencemuseum.ac.uk, or 020 7942 4886. High resolution images are available to download.

Video footage of the aircraft’s record-breaking flights can be seen in a new post on the Science Museum blog.  

About Spirit of Innovation

Spirit of Innovation is part of the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project, which received funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK. Rolls-Royce and Electroflight (now Evolito) built the aircraft’s airframe with Rolls-Royce, Electroflight, and YASA developing the electric propulsion unit. Further information is available on the Rolls-Royce website.

About the Science Museum

Tracing its origins from the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Science Museum has pioneered interactive science interpretation for more than eight decades and is the most visited museum in the UK by school groups. Part of the Science Museum Group, we share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our astonishingly diverse collection of 7.3 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds.  

Significant aircrafts in the museum also include the Vickers Vimy/Rolls-Royce biplane which made the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1919, the Gloster-Whittle E28/39, Britain's first jet-powered aircraft, and a slice of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet – all of which can be seen in the museum’s Flight gallery.  

About Evolito

Evolito is making all-electric flight a reality by offering world-leading electric axial flux motors, motor control units and battery systems for the aerospace market. Evolito’s electric propulsion systems offer the highest power, torque, and energy densities in class and are inherently more robust than alternative technologies – mission critical in eVTOL, Urban Air Mobility and fixed-wing applications. The privately-held company is based in Oxford. Evolito’s investors include B-Flexion and Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE). Further information is available on the Evolito website.  

About Discover South Kensington

Discover South Kensington brings together the Science Museum and other leading cultural and educational organisations to promote innovation and learning. South Kensington is the home of science, arts and inspiration. Discovery is at the core of what happens here and there is so much to explore every day.