Wright Electric begins the development of an electric engine that will power a 186-seat passenger plane

The American startup Wright Electric announced that it has begun the development of a 1.5 mW electric engine that will power a 186-seat electric aircraft.

The company plans to conduct ground tests in 2021, and start flight tests in 2023. If everything goes as planned, entry into service is expected in 2030.

The design of the aircraft has not been finalized yet, but the Wright 1, the first electric aircraft of the company will be powered by the distributed electric propulsion generated by about a dozen of 1.5-megaWatt electric motors.

It's a distributed electric propulsion system, similar to that, for example, of eVTOL companies. If you think of a typical Boeing 737 or [Airbus] A320, it's got one engine underneath each wing,” Engler told Avionics International. “Ours is going to be a distributed span of between 10 and 14 electric motors. And so what we're announcing is the development of this is essentially one of these electric motors that then will be duplicated to make our distributed electric propulsion system,

said Wright Electric CEO, Jeffrey Engler.

Wright Electric was founded in 2016 and the British budget operator easyJet partnered with the company in 2017. The airline believes an electric passenger plane with a 300-mile flight range could potentially be deployed on a number of domestic and international routes of the Susex-based carrier.

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,

said easyJet CEO, Johan Lundgren.

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,

Lundgren added.

Wright Electric is in talks with BAE Systems to assist with the development of the aircraft’s flight controls and energy management systems, though not the propulsion system. The startup has chosen to create an in-house product on that.

In addition to EasyJet, Wright is also in close coordination with Latin American carrier VivaAerobus as a potential customer.