The popularity as well as the utility of Cessna’s Caravans—operating on both land and sea—is well known, with nearly 3,000 having been produced since the model series was introduced nearly 40 years ago. It makes sense, then, that a number of companies chose the Caravan as the platform around which to create a supplemental type certificate to power aircraft electrically. MagniX and Australian companies Sydney Seaplanes and Dante Aeronautical recently announced their partnership to do just that. If all goes as planned, their version of the Caravan could become the first electric-powered airplane certified by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
In a news release, MagniX said, “This partnership comes on the heels of spectacular momentum in the electric aviation industry within the last year. In December of 2019, MagniX flew the world’s first commercial all-electric aircraft, the eBeaver, a six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with North American seaplane operator Harbour Air. In May, MagniX successfully flew the largest all-electric commercial aircraft, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan and in September, Universal Hydrogen announced its selection of MagniX as the propulsion provider for their Hydrogen-based Dash-8 conversion program.”
MagniX expects the STC to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2023 at which point Sydney Seaplanes will be able to offer the STC as a service to other Caravan operators in the region. The partnership will position Sydney Seaplanes as the prime leader in electric aircraft operation and magnification, with Dante as the technology integrator of reference, in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region.
An update to the MagniX certification here in the US that ran in Flight Global on December 18 reported the test Caravan at one point earlier this year experienced the failure of one of its four onboard inverters. That failure reduced the pilot’s useable power by 25 percent equating to a partial engine failure on a piston airplane, but apparently little else. MagniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski told the publication, “When they had a fault coming out of the electrical system into one of those inverters, that inverter shut down in order not to impact the rest, and did what we call a graceful degradation, leaving the pilot with partial power,” he says. “So, it only shut down a quarter, versus if you have a fault with an engine, you’d have to shut the whole thing down.”