Norwegian airliner Widerøe and Rolls-Royce have partnered to develop an electrical aircraft to meet a zero emissions target by 2030.
The joint research programme plans to replace and electrify Widerøe's regional fleet of more than 30 planes.
The two firms are working together in the UK and Norway, and are currently in the phase of research and concept proofing. The project aims to bring cleaner and quieter air transport.
“We are aiming to have emission-free commercial flights in the air by 2030. Partnering with Rolls-Royce for this research programme puts us one step closer to reaching that goal,” said Andreas Aks, chief strategy officer at Widerøe.
Widerøe management have been travelling the world to partner with suppliers that can build the zero-emission aircraft they need to replace their Dash8 fleet, said Rolls-Royce.
This is supported by the Norwegian government and Innovation Norway, the governmental innovation support fund, which will contribute for two years.
Rolls-Royce will use knowledge and expertise taken from other projects on emission-free aviation. This includes the development of the UltraFan aero engine, and the E-Fan X hybrid aircraft programme developed in collaboration with Airbus and Siemens.
Alan Newby, director of Aerospace Technology and Future Programmes at Rolls-Royce, said: “Now, more than ever, we acknowledge that society’s greatest technological challenge is the need for lower carbon power and we have a crucial role to play in creating cleaner, more sustainable and scalable power for the future.
“This includes the electrification of flight, in addition to increasing the fuel efficiency of our gas turbines and encouraging the development of sustainable aviation fuels.
“This project will further build on our global electrical capability, which was recently boosted by the acquisition of Siemens eAircraft business and complements the electrical work we are principally doing in the UK and Germany, whilst building on the knowledge gained through the ATI supported E-Fan X programme,” he added.
Rolls-Royce is using its electrical research facility in Trondheim as a base in Norway for the project.
In 2018, Rolls-Royce invested £1.4bn in research and development, and the manufacturer supports a global network of 29 University Technology Centres.
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.