Echoing the Wright Brother's first moments aloft – when flight distance was more aptly measured by yards than miles – the E-Flight Initiative proof-of-concept Waiex aircraft recently made its maiden flight. The short hop was not the first time a battery-powered flying machine has taken to the skies. Indeed, there have been several who have accomplished relatively long flight times and high speeds. However, for accomplished builder and pilot John Monnett and his team, the first venture off the ground for N270DC was the culmination of four years of work and a huge emotional victory.
The Y-tail craft has its own award-winning proprietary E-Flight system that appears to be under constant development. The set-up that made the flight consisted of a 54 kW brushless DC electric motor powered by a 14.5 kWh lithium polymer battery with the E-Flight motor controller and monitored via custom cockpit instrumentation and controls. The next version of the motor and controller will be installed along with some other new goodies before the plane makes longer flights. Hit the jump for all the details in the press release as well as video of the momentous occasion. Thanks to Andy for the tip!
[Source: Sonex Aircraft]
E-Flight Electric Waiex Achieves First Flight
The Sonex Aircraft, LLC E-Flight Initiative proof-of-concept electric-powered Waiex aircraft achieved its first flight today, December 3, 2010 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI. Piloted by Sonex Founder and E-Flight team leader John Monnett, N270DC made a short hop on runway 27, intended to be a conservative non-pattern flight to break ground-effect and analyze in-flight system performance as the next step in testing. This short flight punctuates four years of development by the E-Flight design team in engineering, building and testing one of the most advanced electric flight packages ever conceived.
"We are very proud of this achievement. The core design team of Pete Buck, Andrew Pearce, John Monnett, and myself would like to thank our staff, families, business partners, and friends in all of their help and understanding through this incredibly challenging project." Said Jeremy Monnett, CEO and General Manager of Sonex Aircraft. "We have a flight envelope expansion plan and will be working on this in the coming weeks and months. We have also already started our motor v4.0 design and motor controller v12.0 to be integrated on N270DC. Many more great things to come on this project!"
"Every first flight of a new aircraft or powerplant design is an interesting experience," said John Monnett, "but with N270DC more than any other aircraft we've built, I experienced just a glimpse of what the Wright Brothers must have felt like flying an unproven system for the first time. The flight was uneventful, as expected, but it represents a huge emotional victory for our team to check this item off the list."
Data from today's flight will be carefully analyzed by the design team and compared to high power ground run data to determine any necessary firmware adjustments before proceeding to full traffic pattern and extended-duration test flights. N270DC is a standard Waiex kit aircraft modified with the installation of proprietary E-Flight electric power components: The E-Flight 54kw brushless DC electric motor, E-Flight electronic motor controller, a 14.5kw-hr lithium polymer battery system, the E-Flight battery management system, and E-Flight cockpit instrumentation and controls.
The E-Flight Initiative electric flight project was first announced to the public at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007, and many major milestones have been reported in the years to follow as the E-Flight design team worked on this exceedingly challenging project, designing and testing electric power components at the leading-edge of technology. There are many technical obstacles that the team has had to overcome along the way, learning valuable lessons about the technology at each step.
The E-Flight design team's continuing progress can be followed on Sonex Aircraft, LLC's Hornets' Nest Research and Development web site at http://www.sonexaircraft.com/research. An E-Flight mailing list is also available to deliver automated notification of E-Flight progress web postings.
Sonex Aircraft, LLC is a leader in the experimental kit aircraft industry, providing a series of Sport Pilot eligible kit aircraft and producing the AeroConversions line of products which include the AeroVee engine, AeroInjector and ancillary aviation products. Sonex Aircraft's Sonex and Waiex sport planes, and the Xenos sport motorglider offer outstanding performance in an easy to build, easy to fly kit package that can be purchased and completed with full technical support at an unrivaled price. Sonex and AeroConversions product development is committed to providing simple, elegant and low-cost solutions for sport flying. Simply put, Sonex Aircraft and AeroConversions products provide the best performance per dollar. Check us out at www.SonexAircraft.com and www.AeroConversions.com