Wright Electric, Inc. (earlier post) is adding a new member to its planned family of zero-emissions aircraft for the commercial market—the Wright Spirit will incorporate Wright’s megawatt-class electric propulsion system and serve the 100-passenger market for one-hour flights.
The Wright Spirit aircraft design builds on the BAe 146 platform—a 100 passenger, 4-engine aircraft known for its operation out of noise-sensitive airports. The existing BAe 146 hydrocarbon-based propulsion system will be replaced with Wright’s all-electric, emissions-free propulsion system.
The path was set in early 2020 with Wright’s announcement and development of a megawatt propulsion system for an all-electric commercial aircraft. Throughout the last two years, the company has been proving key components of the system including a high-efficiency, high-power density inverter and a 2 MW (2,700 HP) motor.
By focusing on one-hour flights, the Wright Spirit addresses the world’s busiest city pairs, such as Seoul-Jeju (world’s busiest route, 14 million passengers annually), London-Paris, Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo, and San Francisco-Los Angeles.
To develop the integrated propulsion system, Wright has assembled a team of companies with expertise in generation, energy storage and propulsion design. The program now proceeds with on-going ground testing and final selection of the propulsion system. In 2023, the aircraft will begin flight testing with one all-electric propulsor. The development program will then accelerate towards flight testing with two all-electric propulsors by 2024 leading to the full-electric aircraft by 2026.