Wright Electric plans to bring an electric regional aircraft to market by 2026, aiming to serve short, but busy routes such as London-Paris or Seoul-Juju.
The Wright Spirit aircraft was unveiled on November 4, 2021, to coincide with the COP26 climate change conference in Scotland.
The aircraft is based on the BAe 146 platform, which has four engines and seats 100 passengers. Wright will begin flight testing with one all-electric engine in 2023 and then move to flight tests with two all-electric propulsors by 2024. Wright expects the aircraft will be all-electrically propelled by 2026.
“Aviation has committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Wright is committed to a 100% reduction in all emissions starting in 2026,” Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright, said in a press release.
Wright is aiming to serve routes that typically take one hour. The company says this includes busy routes such as London-Paris, Seoul-Juju, Frankfurt-Paris, or New York-Washington.
“We can make a significant impact on global emissions by targeting this high-demand segment of the market,” Engler predicts.
Wright began developing its megawatt propulsion system in 2020. Since then it has been proving key components, such as a high-efficiency, high-power density inverter and a 2 MW (2,700 horsepower) motor.
The emissions-free propulsion system will be retrofitted to BAe 146 aircraft, replacing its traditional engines.
Wright is working with airlines Viva Aerobus and easyJet.
“We look forward to collaborating with Wright to analyze the integration of a zero-emissions 100-passenger aircraft into airline operations,” Viva Aerobus chief executive Juan Carlos Zuazua said in the statement.
US-based Wright is also developing the Wright 1, a 186-seat airliner with an 800-mile range, which it hopes to bring to market in 2030.
Electric plane rival ZeroAvia is putting its efforts into hydrogen-electric propulsion.
ZeroAvia expects its first commercial flight of a 19-seater aircraft in 2024, but is also working with Alaska Airlines engineers on a larger powertrain for a 76-seat regional aircraft.