An all-electric version of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan took to the skies yesterday, marking a major milestone in the pursuit to bring electric propulsion to the commercial aviation market.
The aircraft – which is powered by a Magni500, 750-horsepower (560 kW) electric motor manufactured by Seattle-based magniX – has become the largest all-electric powered commercial aircraft ever to fly.
Dubbed eCaravan, the type has been developed through a partnership between magniX and aerospace flight test specialist, AeroTEC.
Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, said: “The iconic Caravan has been a workhorse of industry moving people and transporting goods on short routes for decades. 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.
Ganzarski added that the aircraft will be able to offer flying services for people in a way “previously not possible”.
Lee Human, president and CEO of AeroTEC, added: “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.”
In December 2019, Canadian airline Harbour Air successfully trialled a Magni500-powered de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver float aircraft. In the future, the carrier plans to operate a number of electric-powered types – including Cessna Caravans – on short flights around Vancouver.
This recent test flight success moves the Magni500 electric propulsion system one step closer to certification, enabling future conversions of additional aircraft to magniX’s all-electric propulsion technology.