First we had electric trains. Then electric cars. Now, airplanes.
Sonex, a national leader in providing affordable high performance kit aircraft, is developing a concept Waiex E-Flight Electric-Powered plane.
I caught up with Mark Schaible, Marketing Director for Sonex, at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture last year, the largest aircraft event on the planet. The EAA AirVenture is held in July and early August every year in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, at the Wittman Regional Airport.
“That’s our goal,” says Schaible, surrounded by the entire family of kit aircraft, including the Sonex Sport Trainer, Sonex Sport Acro and Xenos Sport Motorglider. “Keep ahead of the marketplace with an electric airplane. Someone is going to do it, so it might as well be us. We have made a lot of progress and are working very hard toward first flight [with our Waiex E-Flight Electric Powered aircraft].”
The e-Flight Initiative is a partnership between Sonex Aircraft LLC and AeroConversions. According to the latest from the e-Flight Initiative website, “using a purpose-built AeroConversions brushless DC cobalt motor, controller, and highly efficient battery and charging system, the e-Flight electric systems will be able to power a larger aircraft to higher top speeds with greatly increased endurance.” The prototype will use a Waiex airframe so that the emphasis can be placed solely on powerplant research and development. “Initial top speeds will reach approximately 130 mph, and endurance is expected to range between 25-45 minutes or longer, depending upon power usage on each individual flight.”
Electric aircraft, sailplanes and biodiesel (along with other eco-friendly fuels) all have “the potential of playing a role in the future of flight,” says Dick Knapinski, spokesperson for the EAA AirVenture. “Right now I would say potential because it’s unclear exactly which may take the lead in shaping the future. But there are very dedicated and talented people working in each of those areas.”