The small, four-engine BAe 146 (Avro RJ) would be electrically powered by a British company, for routes of about an hour. According to a statement from Wright Electric, which is developing the new power source, the upgraded carbon-neutral Wright Spirit will be available in 2026, with the propulsion and systems to be tested on a BAe 146 in the coming years. The cabin configuration has not been changed, the new Jumbolino will still be capable of carrying 100 passengers, but flight time will be limited to one hour due to the electric system.
However, according to the manufacturer, this will be enough to cover a number of popular routes, such as the world’s busiest domestic connection, Seoul to Chad, and London to Paris. Wright has been working on the propulsion system since last year, and the proprietary equipment will use 2700 horsepower engines, with the development of the high energy density inverters already completed. The company has teamed up with companies developing energy storage and propulsion systems, and ground tests and the final technical content will start soon.
The electric Jumbolino is expected to start flying with one electric engine in 2023, followed by two in 2024, with a market launch in 2026. Viva Aerobus, based in Mexico City, is the partner in the development of the aircraft, and the airline is conducting research on its integration into the fleet and operation. In addition, the UK’s Easyjet is also backing the project, although the announcement does not mention whether these airlines would later become customers.