Low Cost & Regional

Wright pushes ahead with electric aircraft

Electric aircraft: EasyJet

Wright Electric, which has partnered with EasyJet, is pushing ahead with its engine development program for its 186-seat electric aircraft, named Wright 1.

The company is building a 1.5MW electric motor and inverter at 3kV that will form the powerplant for the Wright 1 aircraft and aims to pave the way for a future of zero emissions flight in Europe and worldwide.

Wright Electric is in discussions with BAE Systems relating to flight controls and energy management systems. Wright intends to conduct ground tests of its motor in 2021 and flight tests in 2023. At an event the company held in New York on 30 January, Wright demonstrated a preview of its motor and fan. The company also announced that it is moving its headquarters to Albany, NY, to take advantage of the engineering talent there.

The motor development program is the next step towards building its narrowbody class aircraft. Wright will be simultaneously conducting aerodynamic tests on its fuselage, which will inform the propulsion design. The company expects entry of service of its flagship Wright 1 in 2030. A number of government agencies in the US are aiding research by providing funding into electric aviation including NASA and Air Force Research Laboratory.

CEO of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren, commented: “This is another crucial step for our partner Wright Electric to move towards the introduction of commercial electric aircraft and it is exciting to see their ambitious timeline for testing and entry into service.

Battery technology is advancing at pace with numerous US government agencies now funding research into electric aviation– all of these developments help us to more clearly see a future of more sustainable operations.

“We know it is important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible – our carbon offsetting programme has been positively received by our customers and we have now offset more than nine million passenger journeys – but we are clear this is an interim solution until new technologies become available and we can see more clearly than ever a future that is not exclusively reliable on jet fuel.”

CEO of Wright Electric, Jeffrey Engler, added: “Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186 seat electric planes systems to market. Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine program is the next step in making our mission a reality.”

Vice president and general manager of controls and avionics solutions at BAE Systems, Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, commented: “We are discussing collaboration opportunities with Wright Electric on the development of flight controls and energy management systems for its electric aircraft. Our new development builds on decades of experience in both domains, as we strive to shape the future of flight.”

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