Compiled by the editorial staff of


FAA releases proposed special conditions for magniX electric engines

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released its proposed special conditions for two magniX USA electric propulsion systems, providing the greatest detail yet on how it plans to certify electric powerplants for aviation.

magniX magni500 eBeaver
Harbour Air’s fully electric Beaver, which made a successful first flight in December 2019, is powered by the magni500 electric powerplant. Howard Slutsken Photo

The 32 special conditions were published to the Federal Register on Nov. 19. They describe how magniX must demonstrate the safety and reliability of its magni250 and magni500 model engines in order to obtain type certification of the models, which it applied for in June 2019.

Existing certification rules for aircraft engines — contained in 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 33 — were developed for turbine and reciprocating engines that use aviation fuel as their energy source. Consequently, the FAA explains, they don’t contain “adequate or appropriate safety standards” for electric engines, which are designed, manufactured, and controlled very differently.

For novel aviation designs not adequately covered by existing regulations, the FAA is allowed to prescribe special conditions that become part of the type certification basis. To develop its special conditions for the magni250 and magni500, the FAA drew on a 2018 version of voluntary consensus technical standards developed by ASTM International, plus engine information from magniX.

The special conditions proposed by the FAA encompass a broad range of requirements relating to materials, fire protection, engine cooling, control systems, and other aspects of the system. In addition to requirements tailored specifically to electric powerplants, magniX must comply with certain applicable provisions of Part 33.

The FAA is accepting comments on the proposed special conditions until Dec. 21, 2020. The agency says it will consider all comments received and may change its proposed special conditions based on this feedback.

MagniX is a leading maker of electric powerplants for aviation. The company’s 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system has powered successful flights of Harbour Air’s eBeaver and, more recently, AeroTEC’s all-electric Cessna 208B Grand Caravan.

Join the Conversation


  1. Clearly with automatic operation planes can be tested to distraction by flying them though auto operation all problems can be data processed with known events distance weather take off and landling zll evidence logged and processed

  2. With all good speed the FAA should let the past dictate that the regulation should morphe with the technology technology progressing it as it monitors its safety .

  3. There now exists, the perfect opportunity for regulatory agencies of all types, to lead the way instead of block the way forward.
    The most prolific and profoundly industry changing Designer commented after changing an entire industry for the better, that the (being opaque here) agency in charge of regulation his industry of endeavor came
    Dangerous close to killing his success through their
    Red Tape process.
    On the other hand, a different industry was once crippled by one of these regulatory agencies ceding too much control to a manufacturer who screwed up big time, in their thought processes, producing a sub standard product. which gave the agency a black eye as well.

  4. These changes to electrical powerplants can lead to lighter aircrafts. The actual regulations are evolving to assure the necessary safety in this technologically new flight environment.

    1. Electric motors range in every size and nearly every shape. Generally, the smaller the electric motor; the more complexity built into it. Designing an electric motor for aircraft is a material use and processing issues. To get the lightest and safest electric motor possible will require metallurgists and structural designers thinking outside the box in a big way. Aluminum windings I presume and probably aluminum casings and brushless; though I have not read the reliability of brushless motors compared to classical brushed motors. And specialty spray on and very thin insulation where needed that will last at least 20,000 hours of operation. I look forward to reading details. Though the proprietaries of new electric motors may mean I will not know for at least 20 years and no else will know either, probably. I assume MagniX will need to run at least 1 to 5 motors for up to 20,000 hours 24×7 under load and with varying loads similar to flight without failure to get an FAA approval. If any failures, the FAA will likely tell them to start over.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.