Tecnam, Rolls-Royce Partner On Electric Commuter


Italy-based aircraft manufacturer Tecnam has announced that it will partner with Rolls-Royce to develop an all-electric passenger aircraft. According to the company, the twin-motor “P-Volt” will be designed for short- and medium-range commuter routes along with cargo, medical evacuation and special mission operations. The commuter version is expected to carry up to nine passengers.

“TECNAM is proud to announce the P-Volt design and development,” said Tecnam CEO Paolo Pascale Langer. “We all need to commit our efforts towards systems that contribute to decarbonization. By combining efficiency and renewable energy into the futuristic propulsion system, we will not only reduce costs, but also grant a greener future to our passion for flying.”

Tecnam noted that it is also partnering with undisclosed “major worldwide aviation players, including North American and European airlines” for the P-Volt’s development. Target performance numbers for the electric commuter have not yet been announced. In addition to the P-Volt, Tecnam and Rolls-Royce are working together on the High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain (H3PS) project, which is developing a hybrid-electric version of the four-seat Tecnam P2010.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. OUTSTANDING! Keep plugging (No pun intended) on this vital technology. The sooner we’re free from Big Oil and their subsidiaries, cartels and speculators, the sooner America will be out of the Middle East, and on the road to self-sufficiency, sovereignty and sustainable economic growth.

    • “Vital technology.” Preposterous! I guess you didn’t get the memo that the U.S. is essentially now energy independent? I also guess that doesn’t mean “self-sufficiency” to you? And landing with a battery pack weighing the same as at takeoff … ridiculous. NASA has been working on the X-57 Maxwell for years now … where is the thing? You forgot that this thing is “green” and will save the planet from global warming, though. Arthur F is right.

      • Fracking has allowed us to come close to producing as much oil per day as we consume, which for those folks who are unfamiliar is a mind boggling 20M barrels PER DAY. But let’s face it, fracking allows us to extract the last, of the last oil in the ground, and when it’s gone we’ll be back to where we were thirty years ago. Like David said, anything that will allow us in the long term to remain independent of Middle Eastern oil and politics is a good thing for this country.

        • To be honest, politics is driving (funding) these projects. Also, if we were truly running out of oil, then logically we should not worry about man released co2.

          Reality is that the experts on both “peak oil” and “ climate” have been demonstrably wrong for the last 5 decades. That means that reasonable people should look at this project also with healthy and well founded skepticism.

          • Experts (NASA GISS, for example) on climate have been demonstrably correct about climate change due to global warming since the time over thirty years ago when they first started to bring the seriousness of the problem to the attention of congress. Warming has been within the error bars of estimates made back then. Observable effects have matched projections: rising sea levels; diminishing sea ice; shrinking glaciers; more major tropical cyclones; lengthened and more extreme wildfire seasons; increased extreme rainfall events; changed growing seasons; more extreme droughts; dying coral reefs, etc.
            If anything, scientists were too conservative thirty+ years ago in their timelines of the effects of global warming.

    • We are ALREADY self sufficient. We are a net exporter of oil and have vast untapped resources in Alaska and offshore. This is in addition to very abundant coal and natural gas and the ability to expand nuclear. This is a made up crisis.

  2. Oil makes the plastics and the interiors. It mines and refined the aluminum, magnesium, copper and REM’s. It fuels the reliable power grids. Saying that this plane will be cheaper (or cause economic growth in the USA) is not supported by reality. It’s a tool that has yet to be proven.

  3. I’m a little surprised by the negativity expressed on this forum when it comes to electric power. Sure, we have a long way to go before it’s as practical as it needs to be, but anyone who has driven a Tesla (I have) can see that there is a huge future for it. Aviation has long been an industry looking to the future, and as one who has flown piston and turbine aircraft for 40 years, I’m grateful for the forward-looking people whose innovation made our current stable of aircraft as good as they are. Hats off to the innovators of today. These may be baby steps, but they’re steps in the right direction.

    • A Tesla is only good until the wheels (Model S, X) fall off or the bumper (Model 3) fall off or the roof (Model Y) falls off. Or you need to get a charge away from a charger (That’s where the diesel powered tow truck enters the equation). Or if you care about paint or panel gap quality or having an interior commiserate with the S Class price tag. Or don’t mind looking like a liberal eco-mentalist if seen in one. NOT ready for prime time.

      • Well, the wheels on my Model S haven’t fallen off yet, after almost 8 years and 154K miles. And with free supercharging for life, solar power at home and almost no moving parts, my fuel and maintenance bill has been almost nothing. It’s also fun to blow off “muscle cars” at the lights occasionally. But you’re right William, if you’re worried about being mistaken for a liberal, keep burning the fossil juice! (But don’t worry, big new Mercedes EVs are coming and you will love them.)

    • JoeB you are too reasonable and make too much sense to be commenting on AvWeb. The comments section here are reserved for cantankerous, short-sighted, regressive, “get-off-my-lawn” naysayers.

      • Daniel T. – Oops, my mistake. Not my first one either – once I predicted that the tricycle landing gear would really catch on.

      • No one that I know denies that the climate is warming since the end of the last cold era. Since the surface temperature is rising BUT the atmosphere temps are not, we need to find a theory to explain it….

  4. Congratulations, I think.
    For low, slow, and short flights, battery power eventually will become viable.
    High, fast, long-distance flying will take tons (literally) of Unobtanium-ion AA-cells. Should be available by the twelfth of never.

    Liquid hydrogen (from electrolysis) combustion could be a viable big-bird solution – IF infrastructure issues are overcome (quadrillions of dollars) and IF we can collect enough “green” energy (solar, wind) to power all of that water-cracking. Hey – distilled-quality water could be a “bleed air” byproduct of mass-scale hydrogen manufacture. Who said I couldn’t channel an optimist?

    • Say, Yars, speaking of optimism and realism … I saw a uTube video where if you saw a used car battery open, it’s filled with AA cells. You can easily test them by bouncing them on your ceramic tile counter top. The ones that go ‘thud’ are still good. Think of how many airplanes we could fly for free if we just saved the good AA cells in our old car batteries.

      Waking up from what I call my “round 2” of sleep and thinking about this subject before I got vertical, the answer hit me … install bicycle style sprockets and pedals in front of every passenger seat and hook them to alternators. Pedaling pax could generate enough ‘juice’ to augment the AA cells above and the P-volt could become a ‘hybrid’ airplane. Kinda like those rolling bars you see going down the street in Key West. There’d be a side benefit, too … overweight Americans might lose a few pounds and be healthier. But THAT then presents a new problem … too many humans living too long.

      People who are willingly buying into the idea of climate change being an existential emergency are capitulating their futures to people with lots to gain and little to lose who want to control us and limit our mobility. Climate change has been occurring since the beginning of this planet and will continue until ‘ol Sol turns into a Red Giant and incinerates the planet. Ten thousand year old ice core samples support this notion. The climate was changing when dinosaurs were the predominant inhabitant of the earth. The real question is, is anthropogenic climate change a problem. In MY mind, it isn’t. I will have to say that you can’t have 7+ billion humans clomping around the planet without having some impact, however. So those who believe that we’re in a climate emergency ought to be concentrating on reducing the population and NOT trying to figure out how to make P-Volt airplanes by changing the source of energy from those dead dinosaurs to electrons. All they’re doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Redic!

      I go to a ‘hippy style’ renewable energy fair in WI each summer around the time of Oshkosh. Last year, talking with a punk millennial who thinks oil is some hellish chemical destroying the planet, I finally asked how he got to the fair. His answer … get ready … “I drove my pickup truck.” The end. Me … I drive a 460ci 7.5L air breathing model but I control how often I use it. OH … and I don’t have any kids. That’s MY contribution.

  5. It amazes me how many people feel compelled to comment negatively on anything having to do with electric / renewable. Don’t we *want* to try to innovate past dirty technologies? Yes it’s a rocky road finding that technology and ensuring that it truly is less dirty. But that doesn’t mean we’re better off burying our heads in the sand with regard to the inevitable outcome if we don’t.

    • Reasonable people know that “electric” does not equate with “carbon free”. If anything, switching cars and planes to the grid will put such a huge demand on the electric grid to where the only economic solution is building fossil fuel powered generators to address the new high demand….

      • BINGO, Arthur ! Unless the “tree huggers” allow small scale (or large scale) nuclear power generation or we find some element 114, switching everything to electric just isn’t smart and isn’t going to do anything other than MAYBE making propulsion more reliable … but even there I doubt it long term. E.G. the seaplane company putting electric motors on an airplane that lives in salt water … what the heck are they thinking? AND … when the fires in Kalyfornya start and the grid goes down, how will all those people get the joules to escape paradise ?

        I’m growing VERY tired of people forcing their crazy ideas on me. If THEY want to fly an electric airplane … knock yourself out. If THEY want to drive a Tesla … knock yourself out. Just don’t involve ME or force ME to do it … either directly or indirectly.

  6. I agree with Randall. The comments section below any electric aviation article is entirely predictable. Larry S, I disagree with you almost entirely, except for your last incontrovertible point!

  7. Not so dirty. Our cars have emission controls and catalytic converters and our 100L powered planes see so little use it does not matter.

  8. I just had to change 2 cylinders on the Lycoming O-360 on my PA28-180. These cylinders developed exhaust valve leaks after only 343 hours as a result of pre-maturely worn valve guides. So not only do I have the expense of new cylinders, I now have to deal with another break period and more frequent oil changes over the next 50 hours. I cannot wait for electric aircraft to be mainstream. I’m enthusiastic about all these companies investing in R&D. The reduction in maintenance costs alone is compelling enough, the fuel savings and environmental benefits are the icing on the cake.

  9. I am not saying our engines don’t need to be improved. I also am aggravated with the poor quality and technology of our aviation engines. Rotax is onto something but does not produce anything powerful enough for larger high performance airplanes. as long as fuel is plentiful we should use it.

  10. William, you are correct about the need to bring our engine technology up from its current 1950s level into something approaching the 21st century. It has only been a couple years that the FAA has allowed electronic ignition to be used on certified engines – the same technology used on automobile engines for well over 30 years. Imagine what might be possible if they got out of the way and let innovation run free. But, we still need to maintain perspective. Piston aircraft engines account for only about 0.14% of CO2 emissions. Most emissions from transportation come from turbine engines and ground vehicles. We need to do better, but if we really want to reduce carbon emissions, we should concentrate on the big contributors like cement production (6%), steel manufacture (6%) or coal fired power generation (12%). As Larry said, we need to be realistic and include nuclear power into the power generation future. I like wind and solar, but in realistic terms, neither one will be able to supply the level of power needed to run this country, especially if electric vehicles become the main source of ground transportation. Assuming that future battery technology will save us all is wishful thinking. It may eventually get here, but basing the future on a hope and wishful thinking is not a good way to run an economy. I applaud Tecnam and others that are pioneering electric propulsion for aircraft, but don’t let the hype suck you into thinking it will save the world.