The Anonymous Widower

MagniX and AeroTEC Put All-Electric Cessna Airplane Into The Air For First Time

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on GeekWire.

This is the introductory paragraph.

An all-electric version of one of the world’s best-known small utility airplanes hummed through its first flight today at Moses Lake in central Washington state.

This is a picture of another Cessna Caravan, that I took, as I boarded it in Kenya for a flight to the Maasai Mara.

 

The aircraft are very much a Ford Transit or Mercedes  Vito of the skies.

  • 2,600 have been built.
  • It is still in production.
  • The passenger version can carry nine passengers.
  • Total flight hours are over twenty million.
  • FedEx operates 239 of the type.

It must surely, be an ideal aircraft to convert to electric power.

This is a video of the first flight on YouTube.

The guy behind the project;Roei Ganzarski has just given a very optimistic interview on BBC Breakfast.

He emphasised the various environmental and financial advantages of the aircraft and if you can catch it on the iPlayer, it outlines a possible future for aviation.

I can see electric Cessna Caravans flying around the UK within the next couple of years.

Designing And Building An Electric Aircraft

Three of the designs for commercial electric aircraft under development are conversions of existing designs.

This must make certification of the aircraft simpler, as you’ve just replaced one type of engine with a battery and electric motor of similar size.

The difficult parts of the design; the aerodynamics and structure are probably almost unchanged.

As MagniX are involved in the first two of these projects, I would suspect that they have come up with an electric motor, that fits what is needed for aviation very well.

But then electric motor design is changing, probably driven by the needs of electric transport from bicycles through cars and vans to buses, planes, ships, trains and trucks.

It should also be noted, that the Beaver, Caravan and Islander are all simple aircraft, with a long history of successful operation and a vast knowledge base amongst pilots, engineers and operators of how to use these aircraft safely and in a financially viable way.

Will we see other aircraft conversions from to electric power in the next few years?

This page on Flying Magazine discusses conversion of Cessna 172 to electric power.

 

May 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Watch First Electric Caravan Fly

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on AOPA.

As AOPA is the Aircraft Owners And Pilots Association, the caravan is a Cessna C208B Grand Caravan, which has been converted to electric power.

I have flown in a Cessna Caravan in Kenya, where it took me from Nairobi Airport to the Maasai Mara.

It is a typical workhorse all over the world carrying up to nine or thirteen passengers or freight.

  • They have a single turboprop engine.
  • The undercarriage is fixed and very sturdy.
  • Around 2,600 had been built by 2017.
  • It is used by a variety of operators.

I would certainly be happy to fly in one at any time, unlike some aircraft I could mention.

This paragraph from the article details how the maker of the electric motor;magniX is involved in electric flight.

The Grand Caravan is to be the largest, but not the first commercial aircraft magniX has converted to fly with 100 percent electric power. Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, wrote in an email exchange that the de Havilland DHC–2 Beaver first flown in December continues its test flight program in Canada. Harbour Air, a short-haul air carrier with a fleet of seaplanes, is working with magniX to convert its fleet to all-electric power, and the same 750-hp electric motor that will power the upcoming Grand Caravan flight has been performing well in test flights over British Columbia.

Ganzarski is quoted as saying he is pleased with results to date.

The aircraft is lined up to make its first flight on May 28th, which hopefully will be shown on the Internet.

My flight in Kenya was only about half-an-hour and despite the Caravan having a range of nearly 2,000 kilometres, I suspect that many flights in the aircraft are of similar duration.

A Quick Battery Size Estimate

  • 750 hp is 560 kW.
  • So a half-hour flight on full power will use 280 kWh plus whatever is needed for aircraft systems like avionics, heating and air conditioning.
  • The Eviation Alice electric aircraft seats nine passengers and has a 900 kWh battery according to Wikipedia.

I  would suspect a 900 kWh battery should allow the Electric Caravan to do two half-hour trips.

The Future Of Electric Aviation

It is interesting to note, that four of the projects in designing and building a viable electric aircraft are in this nine-seater segment.

Note.

  • All except Eviation Alice, are conversions of proven high-wing aircraft with a fixed undercarriage.
  • Moderately large fleets available for conversion. – Beaver (1,600 plus built), Caravan (2,600) and Islander (700)
  • Conversion only needs a Supplemental Type Certificate, rather than full certification.
  • The DHC-2 Beaver prototype first flew on the day I was born, so it can’t be all bad.

A detailed insight into the reasons and the economics of converting an existing fleet of aircraft are given in a sub-section called Development in the Wikipedia entry for Project Fresson.

  • Scottish Airline Loganair appears to be the launch airline and will use the plane for their short flights around the Orkneys.
  • Several companies are involved in the development.
  • First flight is aimed for 2021.
  • Conversion kits could be available in 2022-2023.
  • It is hoped that operators would get a return on their money for the kit in 2-3 years.

Once they get the design right, there is talk of a nineteen-seat electric airliner.

I can see hundreds of converted electric Caravans and Islanders flying short routes by 2030.

 

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment