1-Megawatt Electric Motors in the Offing

Leading aviation firms are developing 1-Megawatt (1,300hp) full-scale electric aircraft motors that will potentially be used in large drones as well as passenger aircraft, opening a new era in electric flight. At the June, 2023 Paris Air Show, Jeff Engler, founder and CEO of Wright Electric, told Aerosociety.com’s AEROSPACE that his company had successfully tested its aerospace electric motor-generator at 1MW (photo 1.). “We’ve also signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to conduct altitude testing of the unit in the NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed (NEAT) to a simulated height of 40,000ft. …Achieving 1mW, specifically 1mW of shaft power, is an important step in reaching Wright’s goal of making all single-aisle flights under 800 miles zero emissions. Commercial aircraft need megawatt-sized propulsion systems for a full passenger load take off and we are able to mount two of our systems in a single nacelle to harness double the power output.”

Also at the ‘23 Paris Air Show, RTX successfully completed a rated power test of its hybrid-electric flight demonstrator's 1 megawatt (MW) electric motor (photo 2.), developed by Collins Aerospace. The 1MW motor will be combined with a highly efficient thermal engine, developed by Pratt & Whitney, as part of a hybrid-electric propulsion system that aims to demonstrate a 30 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions compared to today's regional turboprops. Find more details on the RTX power plant here.  Headquartered in Arlington, VA, RTX is the world's largest aerospace and defense company, with 180,000 employees. Watch a video on a 1-MW motor created by MIT Engineers for commercial flight, here. Photos courtesy of Wright Electric and RTX/Raytheon. Schematic, courtesy of MIT