By Chase Hagl
NASA Awards Funding to GE Aviation and MagniX for the Development of Electric Propulsion
GE Aviation and MagniX are the two U.S. companies awarded a combined $253 million from NASA for the development of electric aircraft propulsion (EAP) technologies for aircraft. The technology developed through this funding intends to reach consumers by 2035 and has the potential to be a major contributor to the industry-wide commitment of a net-zero emissions goal by 2050.
With a combined value of $253.4 million, NASA’s funding was split between the two companies. GE Aviation received the majority of the funding, totaling $179 million. MagniX received $74.3 million. The backing comes from NASA’s Electric Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) program; a project that falls under a larger NASA establishment known as Integrated Aviation Systems Program (IASP), a program specializing in flight-oriented, system-level research and technology development for transition to advanced aeronautic technologies into future air vehicles and operational systems.
Over the next five years, the two companies will develop and demonstrate the technology, performing both ground and flight tests.
“GE Aviation and MagniX will perform integrated megawatt-class powertrain system ground and flight demonstrations to validate their concepts, and project benefits for future [electrified aircraft propulsion] aircraft configurations,” NASA’s Gaudy Bezos-O’Connor, EPFD project manager stated. “These demonstrations will identify and retire technical barriers and integration risks. It will also help inform the development of standards and regulations for future EAP systems.”
The technologies being developed will aim to target tech for aircraft beyond general aviation, tapping into both the short-range and regional passenger aircraft markets.
Who They Are
GE Aviation is a subsidiary of General Electric and continues to be a leader in aircraft engine manufacturing and supply to consumers all around the globe. Headquartered in Evandale, Ohio, GE Aviation produces engines for the majority of commercial aircraft with a combined total of 33,000 engines in service.
“After years of maturing individual components of a hybrid-electric system – motors, generators and power converters – GE will systematically mature an integrated hybrid-electric powertrain to demonstrate flight readiness for single-aisle aircraft,” GE says. “GE will also provide guidance and data to establish standards and certification and regulatory requirements for hybrid-electric engines.”
Founded in 2009, the majority-owned by Singapore-based Clermont Group company MagniX, specializes in electric motor manufacturing for electric aircraft, already having produced its Magni350 and Magni650 electric aircraft engines. The young company has recently made the move from Redmond to Everett, Washington into a new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing building.
MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski commented on the endeavor: “This award from NASA is a testament to the fantastic work being done every day by the team at MagniX. This program will enable the next-generation commercial aircraft. We are proud to be in the same cohort with a great company like GE.”
The industry has many companies developing technologies for electric aircraft, however, a large majority of them are targeting the air-taxi market. GE Aviation and MagniX look to develop the technology needed to break into the larger markets, capable of transporting more passengers.