After three years of intensive studies covering the entire lifecycle of an all-electric aircraft, Tecnam has concluded that the time for P-Volt is not yet ripe, although research activities will continue to explore new emerging technologies.
Since the beginning of the P-Volt development, Tecnam’s focus has been to provide operators with the ability to fly an all-electric passenger aircraft profitably, efficiently and sustainably in terms of operating costs, emissions, performance, turnaround and time to market. At present, Tecnam believes that these can only be achieved by extremely aggressive speculation on uncertain technology developments.
Tecnam has a deep understanding of electric flight, gained from previous projects such as the H3ps hybrid aircraft based on the P2010 four-seater, and today we have looked closely at the state of the art in energy storage and realistic 5 year developments, excluding technological revolutions that no one can speculate on. One of the conclusions was that an aircraft with a battery pack at the end of its life would not be the best product for the market, but certainly the worst in terms of Net Present Value (NPV).
The proliferation of aircraft with “new” batteries would lead to unrealistic mission profiles that would quickly degrade after a few weeks of operation, making the all-electric passenger aircraft a mere “Green Transition flagship” rather than a real player in the decarbonisation of aviation. Taking into account the most optimistic projections of slow charge cycles and the possible limitation of the maximum charge level per cycle, the real storage capacity would fall below 170Wh/kg, and only a few hundred flights would drive operators to replace the entire storage unit, with a dramatic increase in direct operating costs due to the reserves for battery replacement prices.
With dozens of EASA and FAA certifications, Tecnam is the most active General Aviation manufacturer in the world with the highest number of new type certifications in recent years. The company’s mission has always been to design and manufacture products with the highest value for money in terms of efficiency, CO2 emissions, operating costs and profitability. Today, Tecnam believes that these key factors cannot define a new aircraft development as “viable” with a target entry into service by 2026-2028.
Tecnam is constantly and closely monitoring the evolution of technologies capable of achieving net-zero emissions targets, working with the leading manufacturers of propulsion systems and providing them with direction and guidance, ready to bring the P-Volt back into the type certification arena as soon as technology evolution allows.
Fabio Russo, Tecnam’s Chief R&D Officer said: “We don’t feel attracted by the “2026“ stream or any Electric Rush. It has always been our culture to commit to achievable goals with customers and operators, and we intend to keep that promise. We hope that new technologies will make businesses viable sooner rather than later, and we have real confidence in our partners’ ability to bring highly valuable products to the zero-emission powertrain and energy storage arena.”