Italian-based Tecnam has paused the development of its P-Volt electric aircraft after concluding that “the time is not yet ripe” for the technology.
Tecnam has been running the P-Volt development program since March 2021 in partnership with Rolls-Royce. The P-Volt was to be a fully electric passenger aircraft for the commuter market in Norway.
Tecnam said in a statement that operating an all-electric passenger aircraft profitably, efficiently and sustainably could only be achieved by “extremely aggressive speculation on uncertain technology developments” at pres
Fabio Russo, chief R&D officer at Tecnam said, “We don’t feel attracted by the 2026 stream or any Electric Rush. It has always been our culture to commit to achievable goals with customers and operators, and we intend to keep that promise. We hope that new technologies will make businesses viable sooner rather than later, and we have real confidence in our partners’ ability to bring highly valuable products to the zero-emission powertrain and energy storage arena.”
Tecnam’s research has looked closely at energy storage technology over the next five years and decided that an aircraft with a battery pack at the end of its life would not be the best product for the market and the worst in terms of Net Present Value (NPV).
Taking into account the most optimistic projections of slow charge cycles and the possible limitation of the maximum charge level per cycle, the real storage capacity would fall below 170Wh/kg, and only a few hundred flights would drive operators to replace the entire storage unit, with a dramatic increase in direct operating costs due to the reserves for battery replacement prices.
“The proliferation of aircraft with new batteries would lead to unrealistic mission profiles that would quickly degrade after a few weeks of operation, making the all-electric passenger aircraft a mere “green transition flagship” rather than a real player in the decarbonization of aviation,” said the company.
Tecnam said it is the most active General Aviation manufacturer in the world with the highest number of new type certifications in recent years and that it aims to manufacture products with the highest value for money in terms of efficiency, CO2 emissions, operating costs and profitability. It added that these factors cannot define a new aircraft development as “viable” with a target entry into service by 2026-2028.
Tecnam’s previous electric aircraft projects include the H3ps hybrid aircraft based on its P2010 four-seater. The company said it was closely monitoring the evolution of technologies capable of achieving net-zero emissions targets and was ready to bring the P-Volt back into the type certification process as soon as the technology allows.