MagniX, an Australian startup, is promising to have an electric motor installed and flying on a Cessna 208 Caravan by August 2019. That will require a 540-kW motor.

In June, CEO Roei Ganzarski told the Wharton Aerospace West Coast conference in San Francisco that the ultimate goal is to be able to propel a loaded Caravan for up to an hour of flight, which matches many of the sorties that package delivery companies such as FedEx fly to the outskirts of major cities. “If we can pull that off, then we know we’re on the right track,” he said.

MagniX is aiming to “leapfrog” other electric propulsion efforts and provide powerplants for aircraft serving the “middle-mile” market, in ranges of hundreds of miles. Battery technology is the biggest challenge, says Ganzarski, but his company has a “few” motors running in Australia that provide 265-kW continuous power.

Ganzarski acknowledged that a competing motor is being developed by Siemens in Germany. That motor, the 260-kW SP260D, is powering the Extra 330LE aerobat.

Nine-year-old MagniX’s workforce was drawn from electrical engineers in the automotive and boating industries, as well as aerospace systems engineers, says Ganzarski, who formerly headed software provider BoldIQ and previously worked at Boeing.

The aviation electric propulsion race is getting more crowded. Startup Zunum Aero, which is backed by Boeing and JetBlue, hopes to develop a small hybrid-electric airliner. Israel’s Eviation Aircraft is working on an all-electric nine-seater with three 260-kW motors that it plans to fly in 2019. Israel Aerospace Industries is also developing a short-haul electric aircraft. And U.S. startup Wright Electric plans to fly a nine-seat hybrid-electric aircraft by 2019, as a first step toward an all-electric narrowbody airliner for short-haul markets.

Electric aircraft development for commercial transport purposes began in earnest with Airbus’ unveiling in 2014 of its E-Thrust concept. It is now working with Rolls-Royce and Siemens to fly the E-Fan X 2-megawatt hybrid-electric regional aircraft technology demonstrator in 2020.