A company founded on the Gold Coast in 2009 stands on the brink of a major international aviation breakthrough after the successful first flight of the largest all-electric commuter aircraft took place in the US recently.
MagniX is an electric propulsion technology company that aims to disrupt the aerospace and defence industry with advanced electric engines.
If the technology tested in the skies above Washington State in the US can be perfected and scaled up, it could revolutionise commercial aviation by making it notably cheaper and greener than it is now.
Electric Cessna flew for 30 minutes
The aircraft, a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan capable of carrying 4-5 passengers, climbed to 2 500 feet and flew for 30 minutes in what was described as a successful test of the biggest aircraft yet to fly under electric power. If the aircraft is powered by a normal combustion engine it can carry nine passengers.
It performed “flawlessly,” according to Steve Crane, chief test pilot for AeroTEC, an aerospace technology company that works with MagniX.
You can view video of the test flight here: xxx
Company started on the Gold Coast in 2009
MagniX was founded in 2009 on the Gold Coast by Ante (Tony) Guina, a Croatian born scientist who wanted to transform the way mankind thinks about powering machines.
In 2017, it developed a motor that became its prototype and led the company to focus on electric aviation. It moved its headquarters to Redmond in the US state of Washington, but its engineering centre continues to be based on the Gold Coast.
Guina left the company in 2014 and it is now wholly owned by Singapore investor, the Clermont Group.
Much of the development work done in Qld
Much of the development work for the electric test aircraft, dubbed the eCaravan, was done in Queensland.
The choice of the Caravan was intentional, MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told the media. It is a widely-used airframe for both passenger and cargo flights and has logged more than 20-million flight hours worldwide.
When it landed after the test flight, the 560kW (750-horsepower) Magni500 propulsion system still had 10% more energy capacity than MagniX and AeroTEC expected it would, which is a big positive.
Flying costs can be cut by a massive 40-80%
Ganzarski says a production version of the aircraft would reduce operating costs by 40-80% per flight hour, significantly changing the routes operators are able to fly with it and the cost of flying in general.
The 30-minute test flight, which would normally consume more than US$300-worth of jet fuel, used less than US$6 of electricity.
“Imagine what that does … to the bottom line or profitability of an airline,” Ganzarski said. “Now they can fly from and to airports and on schedules that they couldn’t have imagined before. Now, they don’t have to justify filling 70% of their seats flying into a major airport because that’s the only way to make a few percentage points in earnings.”