Electric aviation propulsion company magniX has played a leading role in a pioneering all-electric flight, with a successful test of an electric-powered Cessna Grand Caravan 208B in Washington on Thursday morning (US time).
MagniX, in collaboration with Washington-based aerospace testing and engineering firm Aerotec, conducted the eCaravan flight powered by a 560kW magni500 propulsion system at a test centre at Washington’s Grant County International Airport.
The all-electric flight of the 9-seater eCaravan follows a previous test flight by magniX in December 2019 of a converted 5-seater DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver powered by the same 560kW magni500 system.
According to magniX, the 30 minute flight represents a world first for large all-electric planes, although it is a claim that might be contested by Swiss pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard who in 2016 completed a round-the-world flight in their 2.3 tonne Solar Impulse plane, a hair’s breadth heavier than the eCaravan’s empty weight of 2.145 tonnes.
It can be argued, however, that the eCaravan flight is groundbreaking because – unlike the sun-powered Solar Impulse – its flight is made possible solely by using energy that it carries in the form of battery storage, resulting in a gross weight of 3.629 tonnes.
According to Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, the eCaravan flight is also significant because of the commercial potential of the Cessna Grand Caravan.
“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” said Ganzarski in a statement.
“This first flight of the eCaravan is yet another step on the road to operating these middle-mile aircraft at a fraction of the cost, with zero emissions, from and to smaller airports. These electric commercial aircraft will enable the offering of flying services of people and packages in a way previously not possible.”
The groundbreaking test flight of the eCaravan serves as a critical step in the certification and approval process of the magni500 propulsion system, which will enable future conversions to power more aircraft with magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.
The groundbreaking flight was livestreamed via Twitter – you can view the historic moment below (note, the video has been taken with a phone and you may need to click to fullscreen to see the entire flight):
Of the flight, Lee Human, president and CEO of AeroTE said in a statement that “I’m proud of the pioneering work performed by our engineers, technicians and flight test team.”
“There’s no roadmap for testing and certifying electric aircraft – this is a new frontier and AeroTEC is on the front lines developing the processes and best practices that will pave the way for electric aviation.”
RenewEconomy and its sister sites One Step Off The Grid and The Driven will continue to publish throughout the Covid-19 crisis, posting good news about technology and project development, and holding government, regulators and business to account. But as the conference market evaporates, and some advertisers pull in their budgets, readers can help by making a voluntary donation here to help ensure we can continue to offer the service free of charge and to as wide an audience as possible. Thankyou for your support.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.
Head of Tesla's battery research team, Jeff Dahn, says that a 3.6 million kilometre battery…
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus can achieve a market-leading 11.9kWh per 100km energy consumption,…
The story of Wiebe Wakker, the Dutch explorer who drove an electric car from Europe…
Tesla Model 3 towing 2.7 tonne retro Airstream caravan impresses diehard pickup fans with its…
California approves $US384 million spend to fill gaps in California’s electric vehicle charging network as…
Nexport plans to offer Australian made buses, trucks and passenger vehicles, after announcing a $700m…