EVERETT, Wash., August 26, 2022—Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) met with new magniX CEO Nuno Taborda, and staff on Thursday, August 25, to discuss the company’s ongoing efforts, and associated challenges, in bringing electric propulsion to the commercial airline industry.
One of Larsen’s priorities, as chair of the House Aviation Committee, has been U.S. aerospace innovation particularly in sustainability. Last year, he also chaired an Aviation Subcommittee hearing on innovation in U.S. aerospace, which included testimony from then-magniX CEO Roei Ganzarski.
The meeting began with a tour of the 40,000 square foot facility where the aviation startup conducts its headquartered operations, design, production, testing, and delivery of its motors and power systems.
“Since the last time I was here it’s clear magniX is growing and they have moved well beyond experimental and have grown into making it work,” Rep. Larsen told the Lynnwood Times. “The future of aviation has always been here in the Pacific Northwest and it is now much broader than what is the next airplane going to look like. The future of aviation is what is going to propel the next airplane and magniX is a part of that future.”
Prior to moving their workforce to Everett last year, the company was headquartered in Redmond with an engineering center in Australia. The Australian engineering center has since closed due to pandemic-driven downturn, resulting in the layoff of most of its 30 employees, ten of which were relocated to Everett. The company has rehired up to a workforce of approximately 87 people, with approximately 50 within the last year, and is actively seeking candidates to fill 25 vacant positions.
Condensing its operations into a single facility in Everett, just north of Boeing’s jet assembly plant, the company continues its development of electric motors to replace gas turbine engines on commuter airplanes.
One of the challenges in this emerging technology, Taborda addressed during a roundtable discussion after the tour, is FAA approval.
“Because the technology is so novel, we are not able to progress as fast as we would wish,” Taborda told the Lynnwood Times. “The technology is here but it’s just making sure we have the right support from the governmental agencies.”
Andrew Telesca, Head of Certification and Airworthiness at magniX, believes a solution to theses certification challenges are to provide governmental agencies with the necessary resources so FAA inspectors can understand what makes the new technology safe and what makes it fail, to make decisions in a pragmatic way while bridging the gap between national policies and local offices.
“FAA inspectors are risk adverse because that’s their job – we ask them to govern the safety of the public and it’s important they take that responsibility very seriously,” Telesca told the Lynnwood Times. “Within that context I think it’s important that we set them up with the training and information so that they can make their approvals without relying on how they’ve done it in the past because they’re learning about this technology for this purpose.”
Simon Roads, SVP Sales and Marketing for magniX, told the Lynnwood Times that another challenge the industry faces is a financial one stating the development of clean energy is a “lengthy and expensive road”.
Earlier this month Senate Democrats passed the, Larsen supported, Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that includes $369 billion in provisions to lower greenhouse gases 40% by 2030 – the largest investment to battling climate change in U.S. history. The House passed the bill, 220-207, without any Republican support, on August 12.
Washington State also recently passed SB-5126, the Washington Climate Commitment Act, in April, which will cap carbon emissions and accelerate the clean transportation shift with $5.2 billion in non-highway transportation spending through 2037.
While these initiatives are massive leaps to cleaner transportation, the bulk of the focus is on land transportation, although the Inflation Reduction Act does invest $300 million to speed up production and adoption of cleaner aviation fuel and low emission aviation technologies.
Roads believes the White House should expand its focus on aviation to grow the industry at large while enabling magniX more freedom to develop greener and cleaner aerospace solutions.
An example of this, Roads provided, is the limitation on battery density resulting in limitations on range and payload. As limitations on battery density increase the range and payload increases which makes it much more attractive for people to fly full electric.
“The industry is growing but it’s not growing as quickly as we would like and the quicker it grows the better it provides greater ability to our customer base to go full electric,” Roads told the Lynnwood Times. “If we can get some funding and grant opportunities to help us develop that quicker then we can put that product in front of our customers quicker.”
As magniX aims to become completely carbon neutral, not just with its products but facility as well. Taborda did not completely rule out carbon credits as a solution.
A carbon credit acts as a kind of permit that represents one ton of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. They can be purchased by an individual or, more commonly, a company to make up for carbon dioxide emissions that come from industrial production, delivery vehicles or travel. These credits can then be sold or traded to other companies for a profit.
After Rep. Larsen’s visit to magniX’s facility in Everett he traveled to Lynnwood to attend a welcome reception hosted by the Foundation for Edmonds School District for the district’s interim superintendent, Dr. Rebecca Miner. In April, the Edmonds School District Board of Directors approved hiring Dr. Miner to serve as interim superintendent for the 2022-2023 school year.