The programme will look to cover all elements of developing and delivering an all-electric passenger aircraft that could be used in the Norwegian market from 2026. Due to its topography, Norway makes extensive use of aviation for regional connectivity and has an ambition for all domestic flights to be zero emissions by 2040. Rolls-Royce will bring its expertise in propulsion and power systems, Tecnam will provide aircraft design, manufacturing and certification capabilities. Widerøe’s mission will be to ensure that all competence and requirements of an airline operator are in place for entry into service in 2026.
Andreas Aks, Chief Strategy Officer, Widerøe, added: “We are highly excited to be offered the role as launch operator, but also humble about the challenges of putting the world’s first zero emissions aircraft into service. Our mission is to have all new capabilities, processes and procedures required for a zero emissions operator, designed and approved in parallel with the aircraft being developed and certified.”
Fabio Russo, Chief Project R&D and Product Development, Tecnam, said: “It is incredible to see the interest around the P-Volt, not only coming from regional airlines, but also from smart mobility-based companies. This last year has demonstrated the importance of promoting capillary connections between small communities, while reducing the congestion of the main hubs. The P-Volt, like the P2012 Traveller today, will perfectly fit the scope of this programme. We are honoured and pleased to see the level of enthusiasm Widerøe and our partner Rolls-Royce are dedicating to this project.”
The collaboration offers an opportunity to develop an exciting solution to the commuter aircraft market. Before the pandemic, Widerøe offered around 400 flights per day using a network of 44 airports, where 74% of the flights have distances less than 275 km. The shortest flight durations are between seven and fifteen minutes. Developing all-electric aircraft will enable people to be connected in a sustainable way and will fulfill Wideroe’s ambition to make its first all-electric flight by 2026. The all-electric P-Volt aircraft, which is based on the 11-seat Tecnam P2012 Traveller aircraft is ideal for the short take-off and landing as well as for routes in the North and the West Coast of Norway.
Rolls-Royce and Widerøe announced a joint research programme in 2019. The aim of the programme was to evaluate and develop electrical aircraft concepts that would fulfil the Norwegian ambition of having the first electrified aircraft in ordinary domestic scheduled flights by 2030 and 80% emission reduction in domestic flights by 2040.
Rolls-Royce also has an existing strategic partnership with Tecnam to develop the modified Tecnam P2010 aircraft with the H3PS1 propulsion system, the first parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system for General Aviation started together with Rotax in May 2018.
1 The H3PS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 769392.