Wright Electric, a developer of electric propulsion for large commercial aircraft, has launched its Wright Electric Aircraft Engine Test Cell (WEAETC). The WEAETC is designed to characterize the performance of megawatt-class electric aircraft propulsion systems.

Source: Wright ElectricSource: Wright Electric

The company is intent on decarbonizing the aerospace industry and collaborates with NASA, Y Combinator, the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the U.S. Department of Defense in pursuit of this goal. Wright builds power dense-electric motors and energy-dense batteries for aerospace and defense applications and recently tested its electric motor to over 1 MW and is planning for altitude testing at the NASA Electric Aircraft Testbed.

Achieving 1 MW of shaft power is an important step in reaching Wright’s goal of making all single-aisle flights under 800 miles zero emissions. Commercial class airplanes need megawatt-sized propulsion systems for a full passenger load take off.

Through rigorous testing and analysis at the WEAETC, Wright aims to validate the thermal and dynamic stability of Wright's Electric Propulsion Unit (EPU), which is notably quieter than conventional engines. This EPU will be subsequently installed under the wing and flight tested, paving the way for advancements in electrification technologies.

WEAETC will enable testing on fan- and propeller-based propulsion systems. The testing process will unfold in two key phases. Initially, Wright will conduct ground testing utilizing their cutting-edge 2 MW Wright-1A motor. Initial tests will use the LF507-1F fan module and the C-130 propeller. Subsequently, Wright will embark on the second phase, using Wright’s new motor, the WM2500, capable of delivering up to 2.5 MW of power and equipped with an integrated custom drive; this motor has been developed under the ARPA-E ASCEND program.

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