Electric Flight Takes Another Step Forward

Test flight consumed about $6 worth of electricity.

Cessna 208B Caravan
This Cessna 208B Caravan is now the largest totally-electric aircraft to fly.Courtesy Magnix

Electric propulsion designer Magnix, working alongside engineering and flight test specialist AeroTEC, said the Magnix Magni/500-powered Cessna 208B Caravan they launched last week is now the largest all-electric, zero emissions, passenger or cargo aircraft ever to fly. The Caravan test bed aircraft lifted off from Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, for a 30-minute flight with the Magni 750 hp electric motor that AeroTec installed to replace the airplane’s standard Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop that generates 867 shp.

The two companies said their modified Caravan confirms aircraft of this type and size can feasibly operate over short routes. They believe the electric Caravan could be ready for the marketplace by late next year. A story in the Seattle Times on Friday however, took a slightly more pragmatic look at the aircraft. “The flight does not herald the near-term introduction of all-electric, passenger-carrying Cessnas. The cabin of the plane was obstructed by two tons of lithium-ion batteries and cooling equipment, with little room for passengers. It certainly wasn’t a cabin setup that would make any sense commercially.”

Magnix also last year powered the first all-electric seaplane flight when a Magni/500 powerplant was mounted on a deHavilland Beaver owned by Vancouver, British Columbia-based Harbour Air.