easyJet Partner Wright Electric Achieves Milestone With Inverter System for Zero Emission Aircraft
easyJet’s technology partner, Wright Electric, has demonstrated the first of its kind inverter system for large zero-emission aircraft. The latest milestone is part of Wright’s engine development program for a future battery-electric or hydrogen powered aircraft.
On Thursday (June 10, 2021), easyJet announced that their technology partner, Wright Electric, has achieved a new milestone in the development of a large zero-emission aircraft by demonstrating the first of its kind inverter system, a key component in medium voltage aircraft electric systems. The inverter is a key achievement in Wright’s engine development program for a viable, zero emissions, commercial aircraft powered either by battery-electric of hydrogen fuel cell power. The inverter converts the DC power from batteries to the AC power required to power the propulsion system’s electric motors.
In Thursday’s announcement, easyJet’s Director of Flight Operations, David Morgan, said,
“We welcome this latest development as it marks another crucial step forward for our partner Wright Electric on this journey towards the development and introduction of commercial zero-emission aircraft technology which would be a game changer for short haul aviation. We know it is extremely important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible, and everyone at easyJet are committed to collaborating on the development of these new technologies, aiming to be one of the first adopters when they come to market.”
Also commenting on the engine development milestone, Wright Electric’s CEO, Jeff Engler, said,
“The level of performance demonstrated with our new inverter will become the baseline for any new electric aircraft and is a key technology in our megawatt system. In January 2020, we announced the start of our megawatt scale electric motor program for a single-aisle commercial airliner. Over the coming months, Wright will be making additional announcements regarding the progress of our integrated propulsion system. Zero-emissions commercial aircraft are the future, and Wright is focused on delivering on the promise.”
Wright Electric’s inverter system has been designed to be scalable from 500 kW to 20 MW and targets 99.5 percent efficiency, a 6x heat loss improvement over currently available aviation inverters. The system is also planned to deliver a power density of 30 kW/kg, compared to 10-20 kW.kg available today, a weight savings equivalent to the addition of 5-10 passengers on a standard single-aisle aircraft.
easyJet has been working with Wright Electric in support of the development of a 186-seat zero-emission commercial aircraft with a range of up to 800 miles. Wright is currently engineering electrical systems at the necessary megawatt scale to power the proposed aircraft. Over the last year there have been several technological achievements by various organizations in the development of environmentally friendly aircraft. For example, EASA certified the first zero emission all-electric battery-powered aircraft, the Pipistrel Velis Electro in Slovenia, and the UK saw the first successful flight of a six-seat hydrogen-electric aircraft at Cranfield.
Albany, New York (U.S.) based Wright Electric, Inc. is building technologies for large commercial airplanes. The company is currently developing their flagship airplane, the Wright 1, which will be a 186-seat single aisle airliner with an 800 mile range. Wright hopes to achieve entry to service for the Wright 1 by 2030 and is working with commercial airlines including easyJet and VivaAerobus. In addition to the newly announced U.S. DOE’s ARPA-E funding, the company is funded by Y Combinator, the Clean Energy Trust and venture funds.
Source(s): easyJet, Wright Electric