The world’s largest commercial electric aircraft, the Cessna Grand Caravan 208B, with a motor manufactured by magniX, completed its first test flight in the United States. The aircraft represents a new modification of the aircraft of the same name but equipped with an electric motor, which was provided by magniX, the electric motor manufacturer for electric aircraft.
The start of commercial operation of the aircraft is scheduled for 2022. The plane made its first 30-minute demonstration flight with one pilot and no passengers. However, in general, such an aircraft can take on board up to five passengers and is capable of covering a distance of 160 km.
What are the advantages of the aircraft?
Airplane tests have proven that an aircraft of this size can fly electrically. This is the first step towards making zero-CO2 electric flying the norm for small commuter aircraft.
Instead of waiting for the futuristic vertical take-off and landing air taxis offered by other startups, Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, intends to replace the gas turbines of small airplanes with electric motors. This will allow the company to make these smaller planes more affordable for passengers.
As the news aviation portal, FlightGlobal reports regarding the head of magniX Roy Ganzarski, the electric plane can take on board up to five passengers and is capable of covering a distance of 160 km. MagniX and AeroTEC are working to complete the aircraft certification by the end of 2021. At the same time, as Ganzarski predicts, by that time technologies will appear, thanks to which the electric plane will be able to cover the same distance with nine passengers.
Prospects for the spread of the use of magniX aircraft
It is estimated that a successful half-hour test flight of 160 km required less than the US $6. Compare that to the Cessna Caravan, powered by a conventional combustion engine that would consume fuel of around $300-400 of cost. Besides, as Ganzarski noted, the aircraft engine requires very little maintenance compared to its predecessors, as is the case with electric vehicles.
MagniX estimates that 45% of global flights are less than 800 km and 5% less than 160 km, so it is likely that commercial electric flights powered by magniX will first be offered in Europe, the UK, the US, and Australia. Technology news also claims that the new small aircraft is likely to take to the skies all over the world.
With the engine manufacturer claiming that up to half of airlines’ operating costs are fuel and engine servicing, the pioneers of the electronic flight said their engines could greatly lower overall costs.
As such, the company’s CEO believes that the great leap forward in electrical propulsion for aviation came at a time when the transition to more compact aircraft, lower cost, greater convenience, and cleaner environmental conditions coincide.
Conclusion: the future of electric motor aircrafts
The magniX CEO also believes that showcasing a commercially viable electric aircraft is the only way to inspire battery companies to develop aviation products beyond weight, capacity, and range. On the other hand, Ganzarski believes that aircraft batteries will push aerospace companies to create lighter aircraft designed for electric flight.
This is not the first electric-powered aircraft from this company. Earlier, in December 2019, a smaller seaplane with the same engine, the De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, made its 15-minute flight, a joint project between MagniX and regional carrier Harbor Air, which said it wants to become the world’s first completely electro airline.
Since these and similar aircraft are already certified for commercial flights by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the process of obtaining permission to modify them should be completed faster than for a completely new design.
However, the transition from experimental flights to commercial operation of electric aircraft primarily depends on the development of more compact batteries.
Ganzarski is confident that such batteries are not far off. The batteries that are in the flying laboratory were purchased long ago. Modern ones already weigh half as much. So while the batteries are being improved, he is conducting flight tests on eCaravan and eBeaver to ensure the reliability of the electric motors, batteries, cooling system, and power management.
The developer hopes to certify its propulsion system by the end of 2021 and receive certification for commercial operation of the eBeaver and eCaravan in 2022. This means that soon small aircraft will become more affordable and accessible for us. Australia technology news also refers to this innovation, believing that the country will soon exploit innovative airplanes.