Rolls-Royce and Tecnam Develop Electric Commuter Airliner

 - October 27, 2020, 4:12 AM
Tecnam is developing the electric-powered P-Volt commuter airliner in partnership with Rolls-Royce (Image: Tecnam)

Tecnam is partnering with Rolls-Royce to develop an all-electric, nine-passenger aircraft known as the P-Volt. In an October 23 announcement, the Italian light aircraft manufacturer said that the new model will be ready to enter commercial service on scheduled operations on short- to medium-range routes during the second half of the 2020s.

The company, which is based near Naples, has not disclosed any projected performance details or specifications for the new aircraft. It will be powered by a pair of as-yet-unspecified electric motors provided by Rolls-Royce, which is stepping up its investment in electric propulsion.

The two companies are currently working on the H3PS project, a hybrid-electric version of Tecnam’s four-seat P2010. This program is pairing an electric motor from Rolls-Royce with a conventionally-fueled Rotax engine.

According to Tecnam, the P-Volt program will "build on the experience" gained developing the P2012 Traveller twin-piston aircraft, which was delivered to U.S. launch customer Cape Air in October 2019, having gained both EASA and FAA type certification under Part 23 rules. The P2012 is powered by a pair of 375-hp Lycoming TEO540C1A engines, with a maximum range of just over 1,000 miles and a cruise speed of 200 mph.

Given the limitations of current battery technology, the P-Volt will likely have a significantly shorter range than the P2012. Tecnam said operators will be able to rapidly recharge the batteries, which will deliver unspecified reductions in operating costs and noise emissions. It said that the aircraft's performance will be based on the European Commission's Clean Aviation roadmap for environmentally sustainable transportation. 

Tecnam says that a number of unnamed airlines have signed letters of intent for the P-Volt. In November 2015, Massachusetts-based Cape Air agreed to buy up to 102 of the P2012 and it is not known how many of these aircraft it now has in its fleet.

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