Rolls-Royce, Tecnam and airline Widerøe are to partner on the development of a fully electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market in Norway to be called P-Volt.
Rolls-Royce and airframer Tecnam are joining forces with Widerøe, which is the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, to deliver an all-electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market, ready for revenue service in 2026.
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.
Rolls-Royce said it will bring expertise in propulsion and power systems to the development program, while Tecnam will provide aircraft design, manufacturing and certification capabilities. Scandinavian airline Widerøe will ensure that all competence and requirements of an airline operator are in place for entry into service in 2026.
Norway makes extensive use of aviation for regional connectivity and is described by Widerøe chief executive Stein Nilsen as “ideal for zero emissions technologies”.
In 2019, Rolls-Royce announced a joint research program with Widerøe which aimed to run the first electrified aircraft in domestic scheduled flights by 2030, alongside a target to reduce emissions from domestic flights by 80% by 2040.
Other companies, including startup Heart Aerospace, are also developing electric regional aircraft for use in the region.
Fabio Russo, chief project R&D and product development at 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 [11 seat] P2012 Traveller today, will perfectly fit the scope of this programme.”
Before the pandemic, Widerøe offered around 400 flights per day using a network of 44 airports, where 74% of flights have distances less than 170 miles (275km). The shortest flight durations are between seven and fifteen minutes.
The P-Volt aircraft is described as suitable for the short take-off and landing as well as for routes in the North and West Coast of Norway.
Listen to our podcast with Anders Forslund, CEO of Heart Aerospace discuss the opportunities for electric regional airliners in Scandanavia here.