The FAA has taken a major step in certificating commercial electric aircraft by publishing special conditions for the approval of motors, controllers and support equipment made by magniX. The Washington State company has been testing two different motors on Cessna Caravan and De Havilland Beaver aircraft. “These engines have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards applicable to aircraft engines,” the agency says in the lengthy document, which tries to anticipate all the issues that might come up as electric power goes mainstream.
The agency’s best guess at the certification standards required for electric propulsion covers 32 factors that will have to be addressed when magniX applies for certification for the motors. Among those special conditions are dealing with all the high-voltage cables and devices in the aircraft and making sure the motors are durable and meet the power specs. The FAA is careful to stress that this particular set of requirements is not a blueprint for other manufacturers. “This action affects only magniX magni350 and magni650 model engines. It is not a rule of general applicability.”