ABOVE: With real battery storage capacity projected to fall below 170Wh/Kg, the P-Volt electric aircraft project has been postponed
Tecnam has announced it will be pausing development of its all-electric, nine-seat light aircraft, concluding that “after three years of intensive studies covering the entire lifecycle of an all-electric aircraft… the time for P-Volt is not yet ripe”.
First unveiled in 2020 and developed in conjunction with Rolls-Royce, the P-Volt was developed from the high-wing, eleven-seat utility Tecnam P2012 Traveller. Crucially, the pair of Lycoming TEO54C1A powerplants powering the Traveller would be replaced by an electric power system developed by Rolls-Royce, with the P-Volt projected to enter service as early as 2026.
However, despite claiming a “deep understanding of electric flight,” existing battery limitations have led Tecnam to admit that the ability to fly an “all-electric aircraft profitably, efficiently and sustainably” can only, at present, be “achieved by extremely aggressive speculation on uncertain technology developments”.
Taking into account the “most optimistic of slow charge cycles and the possible limitation of the maximum charge level per cycle,” Tecnam projects that battery storage units would currently require replacement after only a few hundred flights; limitations that preclude the P-Volt from being a viable proposition.
Echoing Tecnam’s unwillingness to embrace “a mere Green Transition Flagship,” Fabio Russio, Tecnam’s Chief R&D Officer, said he did not feel attracted by any so-called “Electric Rush”; adding that although he hopes “new technologies will make business viable sooner rather than later,” he intends to keep a promise to “commit to achievable goals with customers and operators”.
Tecnam remain optimistic the P-Volt will return to the type certification arena “as soon as technology evolution allows,” with Fabio Russo concluding that Tecnam has “real confidence in [their] energy partners’ ability to bring highly valuable products to the zero-emission powertrain and energy storage arena”.