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Rolls-Royce Plc

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Tri-party research targets decarbonised regional aircraft technology
Embraer, Widerøe and R-R are to research technologies to power sustainable regional aircraft. They will share knowledge of aircraft design, market demand, operations and propulsion.
Chris Cholerton, Andreas Aks and Arjan Meijer at the Singapore Airshow.

Embraer, Norwegian airline Widerøe and Rolls-Royce are planning a year-long joint study of a conceptual zero-emission regional aircraft. In the context of pre-competitive research and development, the study will address passenger requirements to stay connected in a post Covid-19 world, sustainably, and seeks to accelerate the knowledge of the technologies necessary for this transition. Such technologies will allow national governments to continue to support passenger mobility while reusing most of the existing infrastructure in a more sustainable way.

Embraer commercial aviation president and CEO Arjan Meijer says: “Technological innovations can potentially enable clean and renewable energy to power a new era of regional aviation. The aim of our collaboration is to create new flight solutions that serve expanded market segments in a sustainable manner. I strongly believe this could lead to fully sustainable connectivity, including (very) short haul intercity operations.”

Advances in scientific research can make clean and renewable energy a major enabler of a new era of regional aviation and the three companies will share their combined in-depth knowledge of aircraft design, market demand, operations and propulsion solutions to further develop their understanding of zero-emission technologies and how they can be matured and applied to future regional aircraft.

Rolls-Royce president, civil aerospace Chris Cholerton says: “This is an exciting project which will shape our thinking on solutions for net-zero regional operation. As pioneers of power, this is the kind of engineering challenge we relish. We have an excellent working relationship with both Embraer and Wideroe, and look forward to deepening our collaboration.”

The study will cover a wide range of applications for new propulsion technologies to examine a range of potential solutions, including all-electric, hydrogen fuel cell or hydrogen fuelled gas turbine powered aircraft.

Andreas Aks, CEO of Widerøe Zero, a subsidiary of Widerøe AS, adds: “We are excited to take part in this highly interesting research. Working with the world's leading aerospace technology firms, our aim is to understand how viable business can be built around zero emissions regional concepts and to advise the manufacturers on operational requirements and customer expectations to design the best possible and sustainable air mobility service.”

Embraer's Eve UAM Solutions has been working with Widerøe on a market readiness exercise and a vehicle concept of operation study in Scandinavia since November 2021, when Widerøe signed an order for up to 15 Embraer E190-E2 jets.

And since March 2021, Rolls-Royce and Widerøe have been working with Italian airframer Tecnam on all-electric passenger commuter aircraft for revenue service in the Norwegian market starting 2026. The project expands on the 2019 research programme between Rolls-Royce and Widerøe on the Norwegian ambition of having the first electrified aircraft in ordinary domestic scheduled flights by 2030 and achieving an 80 per cent emission reduction in domestic flights by 2040, and the existing partnership between Rolls-Royce and Tecnam on powering the all-electric P-Volt aircraft with the H3PS1 propulsion system, the first parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system for general aviation that was started together with Rotax in May 2018. Rolls-Royce brings its expertise in propulsion and power systems, Tecnam provides aircraft design, manufacturing and certification capabilities, while Widerøe ensures that all competence and requirements of an airline operator are in place for entry into service in 2026.

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