Imagine a world in which airplanes cruise overhead without making a sound, a world in which short flights not only cost less, but produce zero carbon emissions.
According to a Redmond-headquartered company called magniX, that fantasy world could become a reality as soon as 2022.
MagniX recently completed a successful on-the-ground test of its 116-pound, 350-horsepower, all-electric motor mounted in the front end of a Cessna “Iron Bird” frame.
According to the company’s CEO, Roei Ganzarski, in-air flight tests of the motor are planned for the second half of 2019.
“With battery technology expected in just the next 18-24 months, an aircraft designed to take advantage of electric propulsion will be able to take nine people (or equivalent packages) about 500 miles and an existing aircraft converted to electric about half that,” Ganzarski said. “While these are not record-breaking distances, they are practical enough to launch the industry to its electric age and connect communities otherwise not being served by air.”
MagniX estimates its battery needs to charge for about one hour for one hour of flight. Due to the current state of electric propulsion technology, it’s not yet possible to pack enough power into a light enough battery to fly long distances, Ganzarski explained.
But that doesn’t meen magniX isn’t trying to make strides to change that.
“We are working with various battery companies and other power source technologies to evaluate and test potential solutions,” Ganzarski said. “We are now working on some technology that will enable that charge time to go down to 20 minutes.”
By the fall of next year, magniX aims to release its 750-horsepower propulsion system for a Cessna 208 Caravan, a small nine-passenger plane.
If electric aviation does become widely adopted someday, two huge benefits would result: reduced carbon emissions and reduced fuel costs.
The EPA reports that aircraft account for 12 percent of all transportation greenhouse gas emissions and 3 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. And according to the International Air Transport Association, airlines around the globe spent an estimated $149 billion on fuel last year. That number is expected to reach $188 billion by the end of 2018.
“When initially working on this technology, we knew we would be creating incredibly powerful electric propulsion capabilities that aerospace engineers and aircraft designers could use to foster a culture of lower cost, cleaner, and sustainable transport solutions,” said David Sercombe, chief design engineer for magniX.
MagniX was founded in Queensland, Australia in 2009. About four months ago, the company moved its global headquarters to Redmond, where it also opened a second engineering facility.