magniX electric propulsion unit undergoes testing at NASA facility as part of Dash 7 retrofit

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | November 28, 2023

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

Earlier this month, magniX — an electric motor manufacturer with a focus on aircraft — delivered a magni650 electric propulsion unit (EPU) to the NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) facility in Sandusky, Ohio, marking the latest milestone for magniX in the space administration’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project.

magniX’s magni650 EPU is undergoing testing at NASA’s Electric Aircraft Testbed facility. magniX Photo

The project seeks to test electrified aircraft propulsion technologies to enable a new generation of electric aircraft, and NASA is collaborating with magniX to demonstrate such technology to power a hybrid De Havilland Canada Dash 7.

The aircraft being utilized for the project was provided by Yellowknife-based commercial operator, Air Tindi.

Since magniX delivered the magni650 EPU to NASA, the engine has undergone “rigorous testing” at the NEAT facility — which is the only facility in the world that can simulate altitudes of up to 25,000 feet.

Once the NEAT testing is complete, the engine will be transported back to magniX’s Everett, Wash., facility, and the company will “add the rest of the powertrain components — the propellers, the displays, the control mechanisms, and the batteries,” explained Ben Loxton, vice-president of the magniX EPFD program.

A second key milestone in the NASA project also occurred this month, as the Air Tindi Dash 7 arrived at AeroTEC’s Flight Test Center in Moses Lake, Wash. AeroTEC is playing a large role in the project, as the company has partnered with magniX to design, modify, and flight-test the demonstrator aircraft in Moses Lake.

According to magniX, test flights are slated to begin in 2025.

The Dash 7 being utilized for NASA’s EPFD project, provided by Air Tindi, has arrived in Moses Lake, Wash. magniX Photo

In addition to being retrofitted with two magni650 EPUs, the Dash 7 demonstrator will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines.

magniX says the distributed propulsion system is “designed to reduce operating costs and noise while increasing power efficiency.”  

Ultimately, the retrofitted aircraft has the potential to accelerate the introduction of hybrid-electric flight technologies for commercial aviation.

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