MagniX, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, has released a video showing a test of its 750-horsepower all-electric aviation engine. Called the magni500, it can be used in a number of existing aircraft like the de Havilland Otter and Beaver seaplanes, and in ones designed to be all-electric.
Some of the tech specs are:
Continuous Torque: 2814 Nm / 2075 ft. lbs
Continuous Power: 560 kW / 750 shp
Base Speed: 1900 RPM
Maximum Speed: 3000 RPM
Motor Weight: 135 kg / 297 lbs.
MagniX also has a 375-horsepower electric engine called the magni250.
The company was founded in 2009 in Australia to develop electric propulsion systems for aircraft. MagniX’s CEO Roei Ganzarski answered some questions about the larger engine for CleanTechnica.
Why a 750-horsepower engine? Is that an aviation standard?
Our vision at magniX is to connect communities with low-cost, efficient, and clean electric aviation. To start this third age of aviation, the electric age, we have decided to focus on ‘Middle-Mile’ aviation, flights between 50-1000 miles in range. Given today’s battery technology, the shortest path to begin this revolution is with commercial aircraft that are designed to take 5-9 passengers this distance. These are aircraft such as the Beaver, Caravan, Otter, and King Air to name a few. The most prevailing engine that currently powers these types of aircraft is in the 750HP range and thus we selected that power level to begin with.
How do you test one of your electric engines and determine it is safe for flight?
There are multiple testing levels and criteria required to test the quality, reliability and safety of a propulsion system for an aircraft. At the highest level, the first step is designing the motor and running various and multiple simulations on the model based on data. After the motor is built, it is run and tested in a test cell running against a dynamometer. After that the motor is placed on an iron-bird that mimics the entire environment the motor will be part of an aircraft. It is run and tested in that environment including turning actual propellers, etc. Finally, it is installed on an actual aircraft and goes through flight testing. In each of these steps, clear test and qualification requirements are set out to evaluate, test, and confirm elements of reliability, redundancy, quality, and safety. These are defined both by magniX, the manufacturer, and the regulatory authority. Our electric propulsion system has to prove itself no different than any current ‘traditional’ aircraft engine.
With current battery technology, about how many miles per flight could the engine you recently tested fly per charge?
This really depends on the aircraft, the mission, the configuration, and more. But at a high level, a ‘magnified’ aircraft like the Beaver or Caravan, that has been retrofitted with our electric propulsion system, will fly for about 100 miles + reserve. An aircraft like the Eviation Alice that has been designed to be all-electric, will fly 650 miles + reserve.
What plane would your engine be paired with?
The magni500 will be used to ‘magnify’ Harbour Air’s DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, a commercial aircraft used across Harbour Air’s route network. magniX announced its partnership with Harbour Air in March 2019 to transform North America’s largest seaplane airline into an all-electric commercial fleet powered by the magni500. Three of the magni250, a 350-horsepower all-electric motor, will be used to power Alice, Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric nine-seater plane – an aircraft that was designed from the beginning as an all-electric aircraft.
What is the intended application for the engine?
The magniX electric propulsion system is intended to replace ‘traditional’ internal combustion engines on Middle Mile aircraft taking 5-9 passengers. With operating costs 60-80% lower per flight hour, and zero emissions, electric propulsion enables the connectivity of communities like never before, supporting low cost, clean movement of people and goods.
Who is the intended customer?
Right now, magniX has two groundbreaking partnerships as we enter the third era of flight: Eviation and Harbour Air. After launch, the intended customers will be existing operators of aircraft/airlines that want to lower their operating costs and fly cleaner; and new entrants to the market that want to offer new flying services and routes that until now have not been possible due to the high cost of operating current technology aircraft.
Is a 750-horsepower engine sufficient on its own, or would you use dual engines in an aircraft?
The magni500, delivering 750 HP, provides the same level of power, if not more, than the aircraft it will be installed on. There is no requirement for any additional engines.
What is the approximate cost of one 750 HP all-electric engine and when will they be available for purchase?
At this stage, we are not yet publicizing the cost of our motors. We expect them to be available for purchase starting 2021.
Does your 750 HP engine weigh less than a gas-powered version with the same power?
Our magni500 motor weighs significantly less than the gas-powered equivalent while providing the same levels of power.