GE, MagniX Win NASA Grants to Test Electric Propulsion

 - October 1, 2021, 9:04 AM
NASA sees electrically powered aircraft entering airline fleets by 2035. (Image: NASA)

NASA has awarded a combined $253.4 million over five years to GE Aviation and Everett, Washington-based MagniX to participate in its Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) program with ground and flight demonstrations of electric aircraft propulsion (EAP) technologies. In a statement released late Thursday, NASA said it seeks to introduce EAP technologies to U.S. aviation fleets no later than 2035, supporting short-range and regional air travel and single-aisle airliners.

Over five years, the companies plan to conduct ground and flight test demonstrations of their EAP technologies and collaborate with other NASA projects on EAP development, flight test instrumentation, and data analysis.

“GE Aviation and MagniX will perform integrated megawatt-class powertrain system ground and flight demonstrations to validate their concepts and project benefits for future EAP aircraft configurations,” said Gaudy Bezos-O’Connor, EPFD project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. “These demonstrations will identify and retire technical barriers and integration risks. It will also help inform the development of standards and regulations for future EAP systems.”

In a statement issued Friday, GE said it expects to conduct ground and flight tests of a megawatt (MW) class hybrid-electric propulsion system by the mid-2020s. It plans to perform flight testing with a modified Saab 340B and GE’s CT7-9B turboshaft engines.

Everett, Washington-based MagniX, which will receive $74.3 million of the NASA award, has concentrated its efforts on providing electric propulsion for new and existing fixed-wing aircraft flying sectors of between 50 and 1,000 miles. The company started flight testing the eBeaver in partnership with Canadian operator Harbour Air in December 2019, and the partners aim to secure a supplemental type certificate sometime in 2022. In addition to the eBeaver and an electrified Grand Caravan dubbed the eCaravan, MagniX provides the propulsion system for the Alice electric aircraft under development by its sister company, Eviation Aircraft.