Rolls-Royce are teaming up with Norwegian airline Widerøe and Italian manufacturer Tecnam to produce an all-electric passenger aircraft. Widerøe could offer the greener travel option for regional commuters in Norway by 2026
The trio will combine their specific area of expertise to design and develop the exciting new all-electric P-Volt aircraft. Rolls Royce’s engine design and power systems will be vital in ensuring the project can get off the ground.
The Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, said the move was vital for helping markets reach net-zero carbon emissions targets by the year 2050. He also added that the move shows “Rolls-Royce’s ambitions to be the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid electric propulsion and power systems across multiple aviation markets”.
Tecnam will use its previous knowledge and facilities to handle the aircraft’s manufacture, certification, and design. The 11-seat Tecnam P2012 traveller aircraft served as the basis for the P-Volt aircraft design. The P2012 possesses a range of 950nmi (1,750km) and a maximum cruise speed of 190kn (351km/h).
Audiences will be excited to see whether conversion to an electric model will improve or degrade the features of the Tecnam P2012.
Widerøe at the forefront of Norway’s electric ambitions
Widerøe have made previous commitments to becoming sustainable, with ambitions to make an all-electric flight by 2026. The P-Volt will allow the airliner to service routes in the North and West Coast of Norway, owing to its short take-off and landing capacity.
Widerøe’s contribution to the project will see them handle the necessary airliner requirements to ensure the P-Volt will be ready to fly in 2026. Andreas Aks, Chief Strategy Officer at Widerøe, stated,
“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.”
The P-Volt isn’t the first collaboration between the Norwegian airliner and Roll-Royce. In 2019, the two companies created a joint research programme designed to create electrical aircraft concepts.
A strong motivation behind their continuing partnership is the Norwegian government’s focus on electrical aircraft technology. In 2018, Norway’s airport operator specified goals for an 80% emission reduction for all domestic flights by 2040 and a complete transition to electrical aircraft.
The Scandinavian nation is one of the nation’s leading the world in a transition to electric transport. There will be a continuing focus on investment and innovation of electric technologies in the Norwegian aviation industry to achieve the 2040 goal.
Norway’s mountainous landscape is the ideal place for the P-Volt and similar aircraft to begin operation. Due to severe weather conditions during the winter which affect roads, short-distance aircraft are often the most reliable and fastest transport for Norwegian travellers.
Widerøe will aim to help electric short-distance electric travel becomes a reality sooner rather than later, with their Chief Executive, Stein Nilsen, stating,
“Norway’s extensive network of short take-off and landing airports is ideal for zero emissions technologies. This aircraft shows how quickly new technology can and will be developed, and that we are on track with our ambition of flying with zero emissions around 2025.”
Words by Jonathan Ritchie