Rolls-Royce teams with Norway’s largest regional airline on zero-emission aircraft scheme

The research programme will last for two years. Image: Widerøe

Announced on Wednesday (28 August) the partnership’s initial research phase is already underway, involving UK and Norway-based teams working together. Rolls-Royce is providing research and technological expertise to help the airline, Widerøe, replace and electrify its regional fleet of 30+ planes by 2030.

The research programme has received support from the Norwegian Government and Innovation Norway, which is targeting emission-free domestic aviation by 2040.

The Minister of Climate and Environment, Ola Elvestuen, 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.”

The joint programme will be backed by Government funds and is expected to last for two years.

Rolls-Royce was part of the group of aerospace manufacturers that released a joint statement outlining how the firms are committed to sharing best practice to decarbonise the sector as it approaches its “third era” of electrification and digitalisation.

The chief technology officers from Airbus, The Boeing Company, Dassault Aviation, GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, Safran and United Technologies Corporation issued the joint statement to highlight how the industry is “working at an unprecedented level” to mitigate climate change impacts.

Rolls-Royce’s director of aerospace technology and future programmes, Alan Newby, added: “We’re delighted to be part of this electrical aircraft research programme and applaud the high level of ambition that Norway is adopting toward zero-emissions aviation. 

“Now more than ever, we acknowledge that society’s greatest technological challenge is the need for lower carbon power, and we have a crucial role to play in creating cleaner, more sustainable and scalable power for the future. This includes the electrification of flight, in addition to increasing the fuel efficiency of our gas turbines and encouraging the development of sustainable aviation fuels.”


Through the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), the aviation industry became the world’s first industrial sector to set a target to reduce emissions by 50% by 2050 compared to 2005 levels and to limit the growth of net CO2 emissions by 2020.

Companies within the sector claim they are on track to meet the 2020 target, which includes the implementation, later this year, of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) which was agreed by nations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

However, the climate efforts of 20 of the world’s largest airlines will not suffice even if the aviation sector is to align with the aims of the Paris Agreement and the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

That was the key finding of a new report from the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) – a research group at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute which has received backing from investors with more than $13trn in assets under management (AUM) collectively.

Matt Mace

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