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Fri, Nov 17, 2023

Hybrid Crop Duster Takes to the Skies

1,000 SHP AGplane Offers Promising View of Future Performance

Wright Electric and Axter Aerospace capped off a successful flight test using their prototype hybrid-electric agricultural aircraft, proving the viability of a 1.2-Megawatt crop duster.

The companies have been hard at work trying to come up with a workable, sustainable alternative to the expensive crop of new-production AG-planes. The niche aircraft market suffers from small production volumes and costly turboprop engines, which makes their purchase hard for smaller farmers and landowners. Like nearly every other general aviation niche, buyers would love to have a more affordable alternative that eschews costly fuel bills, and the Wright Electric system may one day prove to be the perfect ticket. The hybrid aircraft tested sports 800 kilowatts of shaft horsepower, or about 1,073 ponies in the old measure. Wright hopes that the aircraft will be a solid proof-of-concept for the brand's electric motor tech. Their Electric Propulsion Unit, or EPU, can be built with outputs up to 2 megawatts, with tested equipment showing 1.2 megawatts peak output with modern production pieces. That EPU has proven to be quite capable in its own right, falling back to 1.1 Mw of continuous output.

"The successful maiden flight of our hybrid-electric crop duster aircraft marks a significant step forward in our mission to transform the aviation industry," said Jeff Engler, CEO of Wright Electric. "We are excited about the possibilities that this technology presents and are grateful for our partnership with CT Axter Aerospace, which has been instrumental in making this project a reality."

Miguel Suarez, CEO of Axter Aerospace, added, "Our collaboration with Wright Electric signifies our commitment to pioneering environmentally responsible solutions in agricultural aviation. The hybrid-electric crop duster aircraft is a testament to our shared vision of creating cleaner, more sustainable alternatives for the future of agricultural operations. Together, we're redefining what's possible in the industry."

FMI: www.weflywright.com

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