Widerøe To Develop All-Electric Aircraft By 2026

by Emma Drew
Widerøe aircraft on runway with mountains in the background

Rolls-Royce has partnered with Norwegian airline Widerøe to develop an all-electric aircraft ready for service by 2026.

The electric P-Volt aircraft will operate a commuter service offering short flights between 15-30 minutes, with routes set to travel to the North and the West Coast of Norway. The planes will be notably smaller than most aircraft, holding just 19 passenger seats or fewer.

Widerøe is the largest regional airline in Scandinavia. Commuter flights are commonplace in Norway as one of the main forms of transportation. The country’s mountainous landscapes can make it difficult to reach some areas by other methods of land transport.

Rolls-Royce and Widerøe first collaborated on a zero-emissions aviation research program in 2019. The development now looks set to take off after it was recently announced that Rolls-Royce’s all-electric aircraft is just a matter of weeks away from taking to the skies.  Norway has set an ambition to have the first electrified aircraft in domestic scheduled flights by 2030 and also achieve zero emissions on all domestic flights by 2040.

Rolls-Royce will provide the expertise for the implementation of power systems, while Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam will be responsible for the aircraft design, manufacturing and the certification capabilities.

The airline hopes that its development of all-electric aircraft will “enable people to be connected in a sustainable way”.

Stein Nilsen, CEO of Widerøe, commented:

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.

Rob Watson, Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, added: “Electrification will help us deliver our ambition to enable the markets in which we operate 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.”

The Rolls-Royce electric aircraft marks a new milestone in aviation. Airlines including United, easyJet and SAS are also looking into the development of electric aircraft to support the aviation industry’s transition to sustainable energy to reach net zero emissions by 2050. In addition, Airbus recently proposed a new initiative for Hydrogen-powered aircraft in a bid to decarbonise air transport by 2030.

Will electric aircraft become the future for sustainable air travel? Let us know in the comments section below.

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