Leading industrial technology company Rolls-Royce (www.Rolls-Royce.com)and
Widerøe (the largest regional airline in Scandinavia) have launched a joint research programme on zero-emission aviation.
The programme is part of the airline’s ambition to replace and electrify its regional fleet of 30-plus planes by 2030. The news was announced at a Clean Aerospace event at the British Embassy in Oslo, Norway.
The aim of the programme is to develop an electrical-aircraft concept to not only fulfil the Norwegian ambition of zero emissions by 2030 but also replace Widerøe’s legacy fleet of regional aircraft world-wide.
Rolls-Royce will use its in-depth electrical and systems design expertise to help advise on all elements of the project.
The initial phase, which involves operational studies and concept proofing, is already underway, with teams in Norway and the UK working closely together on a daily basis.
The Norwegian government has announced ambitious goals for the aviation industry, aiming for emission-free domestic aviation by 2040.
Widerøe’s research is being supported by the Norwegian government, Innovation Norway, and the Minister of Climate and Environment — Ola Elvestuen — who has on several occasions highlighted the suitability of the Norwegian STOL (short take-off and landing) network as a test bench for the development of zero-emission aircraft.
He said: “Our major short-runway network of local flights in the coastal and northern parts of the country is ideal for electrification, and our abundant access to clean electricity means this is an opportunity we cannot miss.
“We are determined to show the world that this is possible, and many will be surprised at how fast it will happen.”
Widerøe managers have been travelling the world to partner with suppliers that can build the zero-emission aircraft they need to replace their Dash8 fleet.
Andreas Aks, chief strategy officer at Widerøe, said: “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.”
Rolls-Royce already has a high-tech electrical research facility based in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, employing
a group of people dedicated to finding solutions for emission-free aviation; they are taking part in this initiative.