Aircraft

Electric Cessna lifts off as the world's largest zero-emission aircraft

Electric Cessna lifts off as t...
The maiden voyage of the electric Cessna took place at AeroTEC’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington
The maiden voyage of the electric Cessna took place at AeroTEC’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington
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The maiden voyage of the electric Cessna took place at AeroTEC’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington
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The maiden voyage of the electric Cessna took place at AeroTEC’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington
The future of aviation is looking a little greener today, with a nine-seat Cessa aircraft fitted out with an all electric propulsion system successfully completing its first flight
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The future of aviation is looking a little greener today, with a nine-seat Cessa aircraft fitted out with an all electric propulsion system successfully completing its first flight
Magnix's magni500 propulsion system
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Magnix's magni500 propulsion system
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The future of aviation is looking a little greener today, with a nine-seat Cessna aircraft fitted out with an all electric propulsion system successfully completing its first flight. This maiden voyage for the world’s largest electric aircraft marks another step forward for a nascent industry out to shake up the world of air travel, which could one day look a lot cleaner and cost effective than it does now.

This landmark flight was the product of a partnership between aerospace firm AeroTEC and electric propulsion company magniX, whose 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system powered a modified six-seat seaplane through its first flight last December, with airline Harbour Air.

That marked the first successful flight of an all-electric commercial aircraft, but the team at magniX had slightly bigger fish to fry. The company had also teamed up with AeroTEC to convert a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan from a jet-fuel burning nine-seater to an all-electric, zero-local-emissions, low-cost aircraft. And today they allowed it to strut its stuff for the first time.

The maiden voyage took place at AeroTEC’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington, where the so-called "eCaravan" – which has a 16 m (52 ft) wingspan – took to the air for around 30 minutes to become the largest all-electric aircraft to ever take flight.

The future of aviation is looking a little greener today, with a nine-seat Cessa aircraft fitted out with an all electric propulsion system successfully completing its first flight
The future of aviation is looking a little greener today, with a nine-seat Cessa aircraft fitted out with an all electric propulsion system successfully completing its first flight

“I’m proud of the pioneering work performed by our engineers, technicians and flight test team,” said Lee Human, President and CEO of AeroTEC. “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.”

MagniX has big plans for its magni500 propulsion system. As the latest of its electric motors, the company has deals in place with a number of key players in the electric aviation space. This includes supplying engines for Israeli startup Eviation, for the US’ largest independent regional airline in Cape Air, and an agreement to provide further electric engines for Harbour Air.

Magnix's magni500 propulsion system
Magnix's magni500 propulsion system

“The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades,” said Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX. “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.”

Source: AeroTEC

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26 comments
buzzclick
And if this aircraft gets used daily, it will be even greener. Still, it can carry nine passengers and some luggage, plus the weight of the batteries too? That's considerable heft.
Cryptonoetic
Wow... cruise speed of 100 knots and a range of 100 miles!!! Put the turbo-prop back in. Cruise at 250 knots with a range of 1100 miles. GMAFB!!!
guzmanchinky
I love how tiny the equivalent electric motor is, leaving the huge gap behind it. This IS the future, the only thing holding it back is battery tech, and so many companies are working feverishly on density and charging it's only a matter of time...
History Nut
This sounds great. I do have one question. A jet fuel aircraft burns through the fuel load and loses weight as it does so. As it does so, it flies more efficiently. The electric aircraft uses energy from its batteries but does not lose weight. Is this a factor that has not been considered in overall efficiency?
michael_dowling
I am afraid battery energy density will never compete with ICE flight. Harbour Air flights are short hops,with flight times of less than an hour. There is a start up building an air taxi powered by cryogenic hydrogen used to power fuel cells,which would yield flights of 400 miles and quick refueling. I hope they can bring the power package to fruition,as it would be invaluable for fixed wing aircraft as well: https://www.zdnet.com/article/hydrogen-powered-air-taxi-yup-its-real/
Loc
Very impressive. But no free ride here. It has to be charged from an energy source. And that source likely produces emissions. Wonder if there is a net gain?
1stClassOPP
What is crucial in my view is it’s range, loaded and otherwise. If it’s negligible, it’s useless.
Mike Vidal
Zero emissions it is not, since you do not take into account the emissions of the powerplant that is used to charge the batteries unless it is from geothermal, nuclear, solar or wind.
bwana4swahili
Marketing departments love to use 'zero-emission' in anything related to electric transportation WITHOUT ever considering where the electricity to charge the batteries originates; in most cases fossil fuel power plants.
Nobody
Looks like a giant step backward. Any battery that has the energy density of jet fuel will be like dynamite in a crash. Global warming has been going on for 10,000 years and man isn't going to change that. Destroying our current world for a few power hungry globalists to take power will not be progress. People will starve and the end will be gruesome.