MagniX inks deal to retrofit seaplanes with electric motors for Blade flights around NYC and Hamptons

Roei Ganzarski, CEO of MagniX. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

Everett, Wash.-based MagniX will provide electric aircraft motors to power Cessna seaplanes flying between Nantucket, the Hamptons and downtown New York City, under an agreement announced Thursday.

The zero-emission motors will be retrofitted onto nine-passenger Cessna Caravan seaplanes operated under the Blade brand name. If all goes to plan, MagniX will start delivering motors for the Cessnas in 2023. The total number of planes to be converted will be determined later.

Blade bills itself as a “technology-powered urban air mobility platform.” Passengers book their flights on a dedicated app, get picked up at their door by a driver and taken to one of Blade’s helicopter or seaplane bases around the Greater New York area.

Its seaplane flights to the Hamptons — resort communities at the east end of Long Island — are particularly popular, because they allow travelers to skip gridlocked weekend traffic on the Long Island Expressway leading in and out of New York City, as well as the (pre-pandemic) crowds on the Long Island Rail Road.

Those flights will be battery-powered, using MagniX motors, under the deal.

Blade’s seaplane flights are operated by Lima NY Co., which provides charter air services up and down the East Coast from a base in New Haven, Conn. Lima will retrofit the electric motors into its planes and will own the regional rights for doing that work in the future.

This is the third deal that MagniX has announced with seaplane airlines. Vancouver, B.C.-based Harbour Air was the first announced customer and a partner in a 2019 demonstration flight. MagniX later announced a deal with Australia’s Sydney Seaplanes.

But bringing electric-powered aircraft to New York City will help demonstrate their value on one of the world’s largest stages, said Roei Ganzarski, MagniX CEO. “Partnering with Blade and Lima to bring electric aviation to one of the largest cities and highly populated regions in the United States is an incredible proof point,” he said in a statement.

Along with being zero-emission, the electric-powered planes will be quieter and cheaper to operate than their carbon-powered competitors, he said.

Back in Puget Sound, MagniX delivered the first electric motors for the all-electric Alice aircraft earlier this month. The Alice is being assembled by magniX’s sister company, Eviation, at its plant in Arlington, north of Everett.

The delivery of those motors is an important milestone for the Alice program, the companies said, and it opens the door for a near-term first flight of the Alice, which is designed to carry nine passengers for nearly 500 miles.

“After many successful flights and tests … we’re confident the system will propel us to bringing Alice to market,” Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay said.

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