Rolls-Royce has today announced a new partnership with Scandinavian regional carrier Widerøe to develop an all-electric commuter aircraft ready for service by 2026.
The 11-seat plane is being designed for initial use in Norway, where extremely short flights are very common due to the country’s mountainous territory.
The project is part of Norway’s plan to make all domestic flights emissions free by 2040.
Rolls-Royce will handle power systems and propulsion, with existing partner Tecnam managing aircraft design.
The P-Volt, as the model is known, is one of three electrified aviation projects that the FTSE blue chip is currently working on.
Last week its Spirit of Innovation plane, which is being designed for possible use in urban areas, completed its first taxi, ahead of planned flying trials in the spring.
The plane is gunning for the air speed record for an all-electric plane, with aims to beat 300mph – more than 100mph faster than the current record holder.
And the aerospace engineer is also working on another model for use as an “air taxi”.
Rolls-Royce is one of a number of engineers working on emissions-free aircraft as the world seeks to shift away from fossil fuels.
Back in September French giant Airbus revealed three concepts for the world’s first zero-emission commercial jet aircraft, which it said could enter service by 2035.
Meanwhile, the UK government has set up a “Jet Zero” council to look into reducing aviation emissions in this country, with sustainable aviation fuels a key focus.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Rob Watson, Rolls-Royce’s director of electrical, said: “Electrification will help us deliver our ambition to enable the markets in which we operate achieve net zero carbon by 2050.
“[This collaboration] demonstrates Rolls-Royce’s ambitions to be the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid electric propulsion and power systems across multiple aviation markets.”
Widerøe chief executive Stein Nilsen said the project showed how fast zero emissions aviation solutions could be developed.
Prior to the pandemic, the carrier offered around 400 flights per day using a network of 44 airports, where 74 per cent of the flights have distances less than 275 km.
The shortest flight durations are between seven and fifteen minutes.