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Wright Spirit Is Old Combustion Airplane Turned Electric Flyer, Coming in 2026

While most of the big players in the aviation industry are trying hard to find the best path to a more sustainable future, some smaller companies brag about being very close to their destination. American startup Wright Electric is one of them, and this week it announced the arrival of an elegant solution it’s planning on offering really soon.
Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026 6 photos
Photo: Wright
Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026Wright to fly an electric regional aircraft by 2026
Enter the Wright Spirit, an electric airplane that should be capable of transporting 100 people at the same time. It’s not entirely new construction, but one that uses as a base the British Aerospace 146 (BAe 146), a regional airliner that has been around ever since the 1980s.

Usually, the thing is powered by four combustion engines, made by British Aerospace, Lycoming, or Honeywell, depending on configuration. But, after it goes through the changes imposed by Wright, the plane will soon get a “megawatt propulsion system” that turns it into an old electric flyer.

According to the info provided by the manufacturer, the Spirit’s powertrain can deliver 2,700 hp coming from a single motor (it will have four of them). It should be capable of staying in the air for about an hour (Wright says short hauls is the segment it targets), meaning it could easily cover distances like the ones between London and Paris, or San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The airplane is not yet ready, with the company’s CEO, Jeff Engler, saying the target for flight readiness is 2026. That would be quite the achievement, given how the industry as a whole doesn’t even come close to having something like this ready by then, and the general goal is to have net-zero carbon emissions in aviation all the way in 2050.

The electric drivetrain of the Spirit is presently undergoing ground testing. The first flight with a single electric motor is scheduled for 2023, and with two of them by 2024. Full conversion should be achieved two years after that.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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