EVERETT — An Everett company has received a $74 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to advance electric aircraft propulsion technology.
MagniX, a firm that designs and builds electric motors to power aircraft, is one of two companies selected by NASA to support the space agency’s Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration program. The other firm is GE Aviation of Cincinnati, which received $179 million.
The grant money will be distributed over five years under a NASA initiative to introduce electric aircraft propulsion technologies to the nation’s aviation fleets by 2035.
MagniX and its sister company, Eviation Aircraft, which is building an all-electric commuter airplane, relocated to Snohomish County last year. Both firms are subsidiaries of the Clermont Group, a private investment firm based in Singapore.
“By taking these concepts to flight, NASA and its partners will accelerate the transition of electric aircraft propulsion technologies into commercial products and be a catalyst for economic growth,” Robert Pearce, associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., said in an agency statement.
Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX and chairman of Eviation’s board of directors, told The Daily Herald in an email that “being selected by NASA is a continued testament to the amazing work being done by the magniX team here in Everett.”
“MagniX will continue to hire and grow,” Ganzarski said. MagniX employs about 55 people at its Everett headquarters.
Founded in 2009, magniX has teamed up with Eviation Aircraft, which has engineering and manufacturing facilities in Arlington. Together they are building a fully-electric commuter airplane.
Two magniX electric motors and an onboard 8,200 pound lithium-ion battery are the power source for the nine-seat, all-electric plane, known as Alice. DHL Express, the global shipping firm, has ordered a dozen cargo versions of the airplane, which has yet to fly. Eviation hopes to test-fly Alice this year.
Electric aircraft are expected to play a vital role in supporting commercial air travel, particularly in support of flights under 500 miles. Nearly half of all scheduled commercial flights are 500 miles or less, according to OAG, an aviation and travel data firm.
The aviation industry’s carbon footprint is cause for concern. Aviation is responsible for 9% of transportation emissions in the United States and 3% of the nation’s greenhouse gas production, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. All-electric and hybrid aircraft could help reduce the environmental impact.
Over the next five years, magniX and GE Aviation will conduct ground and flight tests of their electric propulsion systems and collaborate with NASA on related projects.
“GE Aviation and magniX will perform integrated megawatt-class power train system ground and flight demonstrations to validate their concepts, and project benefits for future electric aircraft propulsion aircraft configurations,” said Gaudy Bezos-O’Connor, electric powertrain flight demonstration project manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.
“These demonstrations will identify and retire technical barriers and integration risks,” Bezos-O’Connor said. “It will also help inform the development of standards and regulations for future electric aircraft propulsion systems.”