If you’re a homebuilder, Sonex is doing their best to have you covered as far as fuel efficeincy goes - and with every year it’s going to go farther. The R&D team “The Hornets’ Nest” offers three E’s in its E-flight initiative: Electric power, Ethanol fuel, and Efficiency enhancement. From the Sonex site:
E-Flight is a push to explore viable alternative energies for powering sport aircraft and improve the efficiency and performance of current products and technologies to keep aviation affordable for the average pilot, and to keep recreational aviation available to future generations of pilots.
I had the chance to talk with three of the Sonex team: Andrew Pearce, Pete Buck, and Mark Schaible. (Photo above are Pete, Andrew, and me next to their electric powered prototype in the GE Aviation Learning Center. Close up of the motor is below.)
The team is taking great strides. They have at their hearts an Edison-style approach to innovation -- meaning these folks are serious. They are on version 12 of the motor controller, v3 for the motor, and v2 for the battery system.
Andrew did a great job giving us all a flavor for the process: smoke, spraying bits, fused electronics, and exacting measurement. They learn why things happen and solve the problems around the process. R&D at its best. Check out their progress updates here or watch their recent webinar.
You’re going to want to keep track of Sonex if you are looking to take an electric approach with your own building project or conversion. Sonex has entered for the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (my prior post on LEAP) and I’ll look forward to passing along the results Friday night. If you’re attending AirVenture 2010 you still might make a Sonex Factory tour or one of their presentations. (They have a home field advantage at AirVenture with their offices and factory located on the grounds at Oshkosh’s Wittman Airport.)