Ampaire and Rolls-Royce win part of £30m fund
A consortium comprising Ampaire and Rolls-Royce’s Electrical division have received part of a £30m ($41m) fund to prove the feasibility and advantages of regional electric aviation transport.
The group’s 2ZERO (Towards Zero Emissions in Regional Aircraft Operations) programme will include demonstration flights of Ampaire’s six-seat Electric EEL aircraft, and, in a later phase, of its 19-seat Eco Otter SX, a hybrid-electric upgrade of the Twin Otter commuter aircraft.
Consortium partners include University of Nottingham, Loganair, the UK regional airports of Exeter, Devon and Cornwall, Heart of the Southwest Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSWLEP), and UK Power Network Services.
The team has received the funding from the Future Flight Challenge, run by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Command and control solution developer, sees.ai, is another company leading a consortium via the Future Flight Challenge.
2ZERO takes a whole aviation systems approach to integrate hybrid-electric aircraft technology with existing airport and airline operations. One of the objectives of the 2ZERO programme is to model and simulate a point-to-point (PTP) route system for regional flights using very efficient hybrid-electric aircraft.
It will aid the UK Government’s aim to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“For electric aviation to become commonplace, and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases, we need to look at not only electric aircraft but the entire ecosystem to support electric aviation. That will be a key aim of the 2ZERO programme,” said Susan Ying, Ampaire senior vice president for Global Partnerships.
“Working with Ampaire and the other partners is a valuable opportunity for us to deliver a hybrid-electric propulsion system that could help to transform regional air travel in the future,” said, Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical.
Rolls-Royce will supply an electric propulsion unit with high power-density. It will also develop a swappable battery system that satisfies the fast turnaround times required by high aircraft utilisation rates.
The company will be powering Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 as well as developing an all-electric passenger aircraft Scandinavian regional airline Widerøe.
Ampaire is in the process of being acquired by Surf Air Mobility, with the eventual goal of flying regional routes fully electric in the US.