A wire-frame illustration shows Eviation’s design for the all-electric Alice airplane, with MagniX’s motors at the wingtips and on the tail. (Eviation via MagniX) says it has selected Redmond, Wash.-based to become a propulsion system provider for its Alice all-electric airplane, a nine-seater that’s due to go into commercial service as early as 2022. An Alice aircraft equipped with three 375-horsepower Magni250 motors will make its debut at the Paris Air Show in June, MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski said. “They’re going to have a fully functioning aircraft, their first of type, at the Paris Air Show,” Ganzarski told GeekWire. “Our propulsion system is going to be on it.” After the show, the plane is due to be shipped to Arizona and begin flight testing by the end of the year. Eviation, which is headquartered in Israel, wants to have the plane certified by the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of 2021 and aims to start delivering the planes to customers in 2022. Customers will be able to choose between MagniX’s propulsion system and a different system offered by Siemens. The Siemens propulsion deal was . Word of MagniX’s deal with Eviation comes less than a month after the electric propulsion company announced that it would , following roughly the same development timeline. Each Harbour Air conversion will make use of a single 750-horsepower Magni500 electric motor, which should give the seaplanes a range of roughly 100 miles. In contrast, Eviation’s three-motor Alice airplane is designed to fly up to nine passengers as far as 650 miles on a full charge. “That means you can easily do Seattle-San Francisco or other significant-range flights,” Ganzarski said. “It’s a real long-range commuter aircraft.” The reason for the extended mileage goes beyond the motors. Eviation’s design takes advantage of lightweight composite materials for construction, which means it can carry three tons’ worth of batteries. “You make it basically a flying battery,” Ganzarski explained. Ganzarski said he feels as if MagniX, Eviation and Harbour Air are on the same wavelength when it comes to the promise of all-electric, zero-emissions aviation. “All three of us share the same common vision of connecting communities,” he said. MagniX is privately held by Singapore-based , and moved its headquarters from Australia to Redmond several months ago to take advantage of the Seattle area’s pool of aerospace talent. MagniX’s motors have been put through 1,500 hours of operation in test facilities, and Ganzarski said the motors starting to go into commercial production in Australia. Right now, there are about 40 MagniX employees in Australia, and 20 at the Redmond headquarters, he said. That number seems certain to grow. “We have about 12 months to decide where our mass production is going to be, with hundreds of motors,” he said. “Right now we’re talking in tens of motors for a year. I think this year we’re going to develop probably around 20 motors.” Eviation already has a good feel for the Magni250’s performance. “We have been successfully testing the MagniX system with our Alice aircraft propeller for quite some time now, with great results,” the company’s CEO, Omer Bar-Yohay, said in a news release. “We will begin manufacturing battery-powered fleets this year for our U.S. regional carrier customers, with a value proposition that reduces their operating costs by up to 70 percent.” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay and MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski show off a MagniX test motor equipped with an Eviation Alice propeller. (MagniX Photo) Neither company would discuss the financial details of the deal, but Ganzarski said it was “a win-win for both companies.” “Once you can have an aircraft like the Alice that operates at such a low cost compared to traditional aircraft, and is clean, we both believe that will create a new type of market that doesn’t exist today,” he said. “It won’t be filled by the regional carriers, but rather by new types of companies that will set up services for movement of either people or goods — for example, delivery companies — and they’ll be able to do that by air, covering more distance at a much lower cost than trucks can.” Eviation probably won’t have that market all to itself, however: Kirkland, Wash.-based in partnership with Safran Helicopter Engines, with financial backing from Boeing’s HorizonX venture fund and JetBlue Technology Ventures. Meanwhile, Airbus is developing a in partnership with Siemens and Rolls-Royce. Like Eviation, those teams plan to get their planes to market in the early 2020s.
MagniX’s 750-horsepower magni500 all-electric motor will be used on a converted Harbour Air DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane for tests. (Harbour Air Photo) Two Pacific Northwest companies — MagniX, an electric propulsion venture headquartered in Redmond, Wash.; and Harbour Air Seaplanes, an airline that’s based in Vancouver, B.C. — say they have a firm plan to create the first all-electric fleet of commercial airplanes. MagniX aims to start by outfitting a Harbour Air DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with its 750-horsepower magni500 electric motor for a series of test flights scheduled to begin by the end of this year. The electric propulsion company, which shifted its global HQ from Australia to Redmond last year, has tested a prototype motor on the ground — but this would be the first aerial test of the technology. “The excitement level is yet another notch up,” MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told GeekWire, “because now we’re not talking about just putting the system on an ‘Iron Bird’ on the ground and having it turn a propeller … but actually taking an aircraft into the sky, an actual aircraft that will be operating and taking people and cargo back and forth as well.” Ganzarski said the initial tests would be done without passengers, in the Vancouver area. Regulators from Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration would monitor the tests, under an arrangement that has yet to be worked out in detail, he said. If all proceeds according to plan, the converted plane would win a supplemental type certificate and clearance to start commercial service by 2022, Ganzarski said. Eventually, all of Harbour Air’s more than 40 seaplanes — — would go all-electric. Harbour Air flies routes between , mostly in British Columbia . The airline carries more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year. Due to battery limitations, Harbour Air’s first all-electric routes are likely to involve 10- to 20-minute trips between relatively close destinations, and not the Seattle-Vancouver “nerd bird” route. But the planes’ range will increase as battery technology improves. Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes, noted that his airline was the , through the purchase of carbon offsets. “We are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion,” McDougall said in a news release. “We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.” Ganzarski paid tribute to Harbour Air’s willingness to push the envelope on electric propulsion. “They understand what it means to go all-electric early on,” he said. MagniX isn’t alone in pressing for electric-powered aviation. An Israeli startup called is reportedly in northwest France, thanks to an estimated $200 million in investment. Eviation’s Alice business and commuter plane could have its first flight at the Paris Air Show in June, if the company gets the regulatory go-ahead in time. Eviation aims to conduct further testing at its base in Arizona and move on to type certification and entry into service in 2022. Kirkland, Wash.-based is developing its own hybrid-electric airplane with backing from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures — again, with 2022 as the target date for . Meanwhile, MagniX is working with other potential partners beyond Harbour Air. “I can tell you this, it’ll be a really exciting year,” Ganzarski said.
MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski shows off a drum-sized, 350-horsepower electric motor that will soon be hooked up to an airplane propeller at the company’s lab in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) REDMOND, Wash. — An electric-propulsion company called MagniX shifted its headquarters from Australia to Redmond just a few months ago — but it’s already revving up for takeoff. The venture, owned by Singapore-based , is on track to conduct its first flight tests with an all-electric motor installed in a converted plane by the end of the year, CEO Roei Ganzarski told GeekWire this week during a tour of MagniX’s digs. The two-story office space in Redmond already houses more than 15 employees, and Ganzarski plans to hire 20 more in the next three months, mostly in engineering. Roughly 50 more employees are working at MagniX’s facility in Arundel, about 40 miles south of Brisbane on Australia’s Gold Coast. MagniX’s baby sits on a test stand in the Redmond facility’s lab: a round electric motor that weighs about 110 pounds and is small enough to fit inside a carry-on bag. Looks can be deceiving, however: That drum-sized Magni 250 motor can churn out 350 hp. The Magni 250’s specifications make it possible to power an eight- to 15-passenger airplane like the Cessna Caravan. And MagniX is gearing up to produce a 220-pound version, the Magni 500, which will put out 750 hp at 1,900 rpm. That’s even more suited to replace internal combustion engines in existing planes. “Welcome to electric aviation,” Ganzarski said. He compared MagniX’s position in the aviation industry to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s position in the automotive industry. “Look back seven years at electric cars,” Ganzarski said. “No one said it could be done. Everyone pooh-poohed Elon Musk at Tesla. ‘There’s not enough batteries, you won’t get the range, it’s not as good as a traditional car.’ And he had the vision to say, ‘No, we’ll make it happen, and that will start the ripple effects.’ Lo and behold, it did. Every car manufacturer has an electric car.” MagniX’s business plan calls for starting small: Ganzarski said he already has an airplane manufacturer lined up to install MagniX’s electric-propulsion system into Cessna-class airplanes, plus an operator that’s primed to fly the converted aircraft on routes with a range of roughly 100 miles. “We’re not talking about a 737 or a private jet,” he said. “They fly short distances. Look at a FedEx feeder, look at a look at a . … These are all 10-, 20-, 30-minute flights.” Just as the Tesla Roadster blazed the trail for Tesla’s Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y, those short-range flights could blaze a trail for low-cost, zero-emission flights that take advantage of thousands of underused regional airports in places like Moses Lake and Ellensburg, Wash. Ganzarski said electric aviation could bring a 70 to 80 percent reduction in flight costs. And if that comes to pass, it could open up whole new opportunities in air transportation. “If it’s that cheap to fly to Ellensburg, guess what? Maybe Amazon could do two-hour shipments to Ellensburg, instead of five-day shipments on a truck,” Ganzarski said. “Think about an airfield in Redmond or Issaquah, and Ellensburg. Suddenly Ellensburg could be a suburb of Seattle.” Could it really happen? And is MagniX the company to do it? The business model that Ganzarski has in mind is similar to what Kirkland, Wash.-based Zunum Aero is pursuing for its hybrid-electric aircraft. Zunum Aero won big-name backing from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures, but it closing its next financing round. Ganzarski argues that MagniX has two advantages on its side: First, the company is going with an all-electric approach rather than Zunum’s more complex hybrid propulsion system. He drew another analogy to the auto industry: “If I’m selling hybrid today, I’m selling history.” The second advantage has to do with MagniX’s funding. Because it’s wholly owned by the Clermont Group, Ganzarski doesn’t have to worry about raising venture capital. “We are not a traditional startup,” he said. “We are not venture-backed, we are a fully funded company. Which means that I, as a CEO, and our company can focus on our long-term goal.” That goal, Ganzarski said, has everything to do with connections. “We’re both completely aligned on the vision of prosperity and connecting communities,” he said. “They also know that this isn’t an 18-month return. This isn’t an app that we’ll sell to somebody in 18 months and get an exit. This isn’t about that. This is about building a generational business that will have a positive impact on society. “None of us have options in the company,” Ganzarski said. “We’re not here because we think that one day we’ll be rich. We’re here with a mission. We want to be able to tell our grandkids that they’re all flying on clean, low-cost aircraft because of what we did in 2018 and 2019.”