Wright Electric has marked a new milestone as it begins the engine development programme for its 186-seat electric aircraft, Wright 1.

Wright is engineering electrical systems at a megawatt scale necessary for commercial flight of its 186-seat electric aircraft, building a 1.5MW electrical motor and inverter at 3 kilovolts that will form the powerplant of the aircraft.

“Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186 seat electric planes systems to market,” said Jeffrey Engler, CEO of Wright Electric. “Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine programme is the next step in making our mission a reality.”

Ground tests of the motor are intended to take place in 2021 and flight tests in 2023. The company demonstrated a preview of its motor and fan at an event in New York City on 30 January.

The company is in discussions with BAE Systems relating to flight controls and energy management systems, with Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, Vice President and General Manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems commenting: “We are discussing collaboration opportunities with Wright Electric on the development of flight controls and energy management systems for its electric aircraft. Our new development builds on decades of experience in both domains, as we strive to shape the future of flight.”

Wright will also be conducting aerodynamic tests on its fuselage, which will inform the propulsion design. The company expects entry of service of its flagship Wright 1 in 2030.

A number of government agencies in the United States are aiding research by providing funding into electric aviation.

easyJet is partnered with the manufacturer, supporting its mission to produce all-electric short-haul aircraft. easyJet’s CEO, Johan Lundgren called the programme development a “crucial step” for Wright Electric towards the introduction of commercial electric aircraft, adding: “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.

“We know it is important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible – our carbon offsetting programme has been positively received by our customers and we have now offset more than nine million passenger journeys – but we are clear this is an interim solution until new technologies become available and we can see more clearly than ever a future that is not exclusively reliable on jet fuel,” he added.