The Magni500 sounds just about as loud as you’d expect for an airplane engine — but technically speaking, this is no engine. It’s a 750-horsepower, all-electric motor that MagniX has been revving up to turn an aircraft propeller at full power.
That’s a significant milestone for MagniX, which has offices in Redmond, Wash., and in Australia. The successful ground tests signal that the company is getting closer to having the Magni500 flight-tested on a Harbour Air plane in British Columbia.
“This milestone is significant not only for MagniX, but for the electric aviation industry in general, because it is now the world’s largest all-electric motor (560 kw / 750HP) that has been installed in an aircraft-like system, turning a real full-sized aircraft propeller and controlling prop pitch via a governor,” MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told GeekWire in an email.
“This was the last step before installing such a system on an aircraft — in our case, the Harbour Air Beaver,” he said. “We are now testing our third 750HP motor.”
Ganzarski said MagniX has completed more than 50 hours of multiple full-power, full-flight profile tests on the Magni500 at its engineering center on Australia’s Gold Coast. “The motor has shipped to B.C. and has now been installed on the Beaver aircraft as part of the full system integration,” he said.
Ganzarski said the motor’s test program has been proceeding according to plan. “Any new aircraft engine / motor goes through basic ground testing, then advanced ground testing on an iron bird, and then goes on an aircraft,” he said.
The plan calls for test flights to be flown in the Vancouver area using the converted Beaver, starting once system integration is complete. Regulators from Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to monitor the tests, but Ganzarski didn’t provide fresh details on that part of the plan.
When the MagniX-Harbour Air partnership was announced in March, Ganzarski said the first of what’s expected to be dozens of all-electric Harbour Air planes could be flying customers by 2022.
Harbour Air flies routes between more than a dozen destinations, mostly in British Columbia but also including Seattle’s Lake Union. The airline carries more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year.
Due to battery limitations, Harbour Air’s first all-electric routes are likely to involve 10- to 20-minute trips between relatively close destinations, and not the Seattle-Vancouver “nerd bird” route, Ganzarski said in March. But the planes’ range will increase as battery technology improves.
MagniX is also partnering with Eviation, which is developing a clean-sheet, all-electric airplane known as Alice. Israel-based Eviation plans to offer MagniX’s 375HP Magni250 motors as one of the propulsion options for Alice, with Siemens providing the second option.
Eviation is working on Alice at its U.S. headquarters in Prescott, Ariz., but the bulk of the flight tests are to be conducted at Grant County International Airport near Moses Lake, Wash., in partnership with Seattle-based AeroTEC. During Alice’s rollout at the Paris Air Show in June, Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay told reporters that he hopes to win FAA certification for the plane by late 2021 or early 2022.