While it didn’t take place in Kitty Hawk, the first test flight of MagniX’s all-electric seaplane was a significant milestone, not only for the company but aviation in general.
Mounted on a modified Harbour Air de Havilland Beaver, the 750-horsepower Magni500 electric motor lifted the plane effortlessly off the Fraser River on Dec. 10. The flight kicks off a two-year certification process to get MagniX’s electric powerplant certified.
Months of hard work have led up to the plane’s first flight. The 265-pound engine is designed for short haul flights – 100 miles or less – which represent about two million of the 38 million passenger flights annually. While that represents just about five percent of the total market, short haul operators are anxious for technology advances that will reduce operating costs, improve profits and lower carbon emissions.
Aviation buffs will quickly point out that other all-electric aircraft have taken test flights in the last few years. But the converted Beaver is the world’s first commercial all-electric airplane, which the two companies hope will be certified in 2021. Once the engine is certified, Harbour Air plans to install magni500 motors on 40 of its seaplanes, which operate 30,000 flights annually.
Not bad for a company that was founded just a decade ago and decided two years ago to enter the aerospace propulsion market. Approximately 30 employees staff MagniX’s engineering offices in Redmond, Washington, across the street from Space X. An additional 50 employees work in Australia, where it all began.
MagniX isn’t the only company experimenting with electric propulsion technologies in Washington State. In Moses Lake, AeroTEC is retrofitting a Cessna Caravan 208B which should begin test flights early next year. AeroTEC and MagniX are collaborating on development of the built-from-scratch Alice electric plane from Eviation, an Israel-based company. It will use three of MagniX’s 375 horsepower Magni250 engines for propulsion.
Somewhere in the great beyond, Wilbur and Orville are fist-bumping one another.
Read all about it in Geekwire.