Rolls-Royce & Tecnam collaborate with Widerøe to deliver an all-electric commuter aircraft by 2026
Scandinavia's largest regional airline aim's to provide all-electric passenger aircraft for its commuter Market by 2026. To achieve this, the airline is joining forces with Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam.
The project expands on the successful research programme between Rolls-Royce and Widerøe on sustainable aviation and the existing partnership between Rolls-Royce and Tecnam on powering the all-electric P-Volt aircraft.
"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."
Stein Nilsen, Chief Executive, Widerøe
"Electrification will help us deliver our ambition to enable the markets in which we operate to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050. This collaboration strengthens our existing relationships with Tecnam and Widerøe as we look to explore what is needed to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market. It also demonstrates Rolls-Royce's ambitions to be the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric propulsion and power systems across multiple aviation markets."
Said Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical
The programme will cover all elements of developing and delivering an all-electric passenger aircraft that matches the requirements of 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 airline operator competence and requirements 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 sustainably and fulfil 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 and routes in the North and the West Coast of Norway.
Rolls-Royce and Widerøe announced a joint research programme in 2019. The programme aimed to evaluate and develop electrical aircraft concepts to fulfil the Norwegian ambition of having the first electrified aircraft in regular domestic scheduled flights by 2030 and 80% emission reduction in domestic flights by 2040.