When Riona Armesmith moved from Britain to the Seattle area two and a half years ago to become chief technology officer for magniX, a company that’s pioneering electric aviation, she had to take a leap of faith.
Armesmith was leaving one of the world’s best-known manufacturing companies, Rolls-Royce, where she was head of programs for aviation futures. She would be joining a privately held company that builds electric propulsion systems for aircraft that won’t go into commercial service until the mid-2020s. And she’d be bringing her family along for an adventure in a whole new world.
“To move halfway across the world, for me, it was easy,” she says. “For my family, it was harder.”
MagniX and its technical team are facing daunting challenges, ranging from working around the limitations of battery technology to running a gauntlet of regulatory requirements. But Armesmith is unfazed. It’s a technological frontier that’s tailor-made for uncommon thinkers.
“There are many of us that moved here for this job because of the technology, because of what magniX is doing, and because we’ve flown five different aircraft in three years,” she says. “The opportunity to see what you’re doing fly in such a short amount of time — that opportunity is so rare in this industry.”