OSHKOSH, WIS. – Sonex Aircraft, LLC E-Flight Initiative proof-of-concept electric-powered Waiex aircraft achieved its first flight on December 3, 2010 at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis. 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.
There is a flight envelope expansion plan being worked on in the coming weeks. The company has also already started its motor v4.0 design and motor controller v12.0 to be integrated on N270DC. “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.