This is the largest 100% electric commercial aircraft that is now making its first test flight over Washington State in the United States.
The news around electric airplanes is dense these last few days. Yesterday, Futura presented ZeroAir’s fuel cell aircraft prototype. Powered by liquid hydrogen, this engine would considerably increase the autonomy of an electric inter-regional aircraft. Also for this category of commercial aircraft, the Seattle, U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer Magnix is today scheduled to make the first flight of its prototype equipped with an electric powerplant.
As with the ZeroAir with its modified Piper PA46, the aircraft used for the tests is a Cessna Caravan 208 that has been adapted to be equipped with a 750-horsepower electric motor. This aircraft is a small commercial aircraft capable of carrying between 9 and 14 passengers. It is notably used in France for the Brest-Ouessant route. After its 30-minute test flight, it will be the largest 100% electric commercial aircraft.
The biggest, but not the first
As with electric car manufacturers, the big concern is the range of the device. On such a plane, this is determined by its maximum weight. Once passengers and cargo are on board, the battery must not weigh more than the entire fuel. Lithium-ion type, it certainly does not allow the Cessna Caravan to achieve its usual 1750 km, but only about 160! A low autonomy therefore, which will only be suitable for some small companies whose mission is to make flea jumps
credit photo : bjtonline
The other limitation is the time it takes to recharge the battery. The plane cannot leave right away, even if according to Magnix, the recharging time would be comparable to that delivered by a Tesla charger. On the other hand, in addition to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, this type of engine would also reduce hourly maintenance costs by 50-80%, according to Magnix. Although it is the largest aircraft to take to the air thanks to its electric propulsion, the Cessna is not the first commercial aircraft to fly 100% electric. In December, Magnix already conducted flight tests with the same engine on a De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver seaplane over Vancouver, British Columbia. This aircraft is part of the fleet of Harbor Air, a regional airline that wants to switch to electric power on its aircraft.