Founded in Boston in 2016, Wright Electric has sparked the interest of NASA, the US Department of Energy, the US Airforce and private entities alike. Their goal? Zero-emission commercial flights. According to their website, Wright plans to eliminate carbon emissions from all flights under 800 miles by 2040. In the immediate future, Wright Electric is aiming to tackle one-hour flights. Some of the routes they plan to make emission-free by 2026 are city pairs like London - Paris, New York – Boston and San Francisco – Los Angeles. “One of the things that we know [about] the 737 and A320 [the most popular passenger jetliners in the world] is that 50% of their flights are shorter than 800 miles. And so that's really our target. Our target is the 737, A320 market for flights shorter than 800 miles,” said CEO and Co-Founder Jeff Engler in a statement.
Entering the aviation marketplace as a legitimate competitor is “daunting” according to Engler, but Wright Electric seems to have found an entrance point – retrofitting older plane models with new technology. “We're starting to get interest from other airline companies to use our motors to retrofit their planes. So, there might be another interim step, maybe we start with a BAe146. And then there's other companies that we've been speaking to about retrofitting their airplanes as well, because our propulsion system is designed for basically very large airplanes.”
Retrofitting old airplane engines to make them emission-free is certainly no easy feat, but Engler is confident in his team and the expertise of Capital Region engineers. “There's a ton of talent in Albany, all focused on very specialized motors and motor controllers – and in the aviation industry, specifically,” said Engler. “There's a really good talent pool there, and some of our early engineers on our team had come from the Albany area, so we thought the best thing to do would be to build a team around them.”
As the aviation market searches to address environmental concerns, new electric engine technology and non-combustible propulsion systems could be their solution. Wright Electric has also recently announced a development contract with the US Air Force for the world’s “lightest ultra-powerful megawatt generator” which was built upon the breakthrough of the Wright Motor. While the company is still in its infancy, Wright Electric’s ambitious projects have the potential for a massive shake-up in the transportation and energy industries – and some key players in said industries have sat up to take notice.