Embraer, Wideroe, Rolls-Royce Study Zero-Emissions Regional Airliner

Left to Right: Chris Cholerton, President – Civil Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, Andreas Aks, CEO of Widerøe Zero, a subsidiary of Widerøe and Arjan Meijer, President and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation
Credit: Rolls-Royce

SINGAPORE—Building on a growing relationship with Embraer over spinoff Eve Urban Air Mobility, Rolls-Royce and Norwegian airline Wideroe have agreed to jointly study technology requirements with the Brazilian aircraft-maker for a future zero-emissions regional airliner.

The yearlong cooperation study is targeted at accelerating airframe, propulsion and other technologies that the group says, “will allow national governments to continue to support passenger mobility while reusing most of the existing infrastructure in a more sustainable way.”

Although no specific concept aircraft or power size requirements are identified, the study will cover a range of applications for new propulsion technologies including all-electric, hydrogen fuel cell or hydrogen fueled gas turbine powered aircraft.

Wideroe, which now operates 40-80-seat regional turboprops and larger regional jets, has already formed a partnership with Italy-based Tecnam and Rolls-Royce to prepare for entry into service of the all-electric P-Volt, a nine-passenger regional aircraft based on the P2012. However, the airline has longer-term plans to look at technology for larger scale sustainable regional aircraft beyond the P-Volt, which is due to enter service on short routes in 2026 as part of plans to electrify domestic flights by 2030. The P-Volt will be powered by two 320-kW Rolls-Royce electric motors, replacing the P2012’s two 275-kw (370 hp) Lycoming piston engines.

Rolls-Royce is a strategic investor in Embraer’s Eve Urban Air Mobility electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) project, and a longtime supplier of turbofans for the Brazilian manufacturer’s regional jet line. The engine-maker is also bidding for a place on Embraer’s proposed next-generation regional airliner with an advanced turboprop engine.

Rob Watson, president of Rolls-Royce Electrical, tells ShowNews that the three-way study agreement is designed to maximize “the benefit of working with platformers and operators. It’s all about how you optimize your mission profile; How do you optimize to reduce your emissions? There’s a careful interplay of power, propulsion and platform operation.”

The study agreement also goes beyond basic technology, he adds. “Convening a group early to think about the monetization of technology is really important. It’s not just the next generation of something where you know how it’s going to apply, and what market you’re going to sell it. It’s much more complex and has plenty of challenges around it.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.