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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedTaxi test x two & a turbine
By Steve Schapiro
 

Sonex Aircraft completed the first taxi tests of its electric powered Waiex (foreground) and the SubSonex jet with its new tricycle gear configuration on Friday. Photo by Jim Koepnick

Sonex Aircraft’s e-Flight Initiative took a major step forward Friday afternoon with the first taxi test of its electric powered Waiex. It was the second milestone of the day for the Oshkosh-based kit plane manufacturer. Friday morning, company founder and president John Monnett successfully taxied the SubSonex jet with its new tricycle gear configuration.

The Hornet’s Nest Research and Development team for the SubSonex modified the undercarriage of the jet to the tricycle gear to increase yaw stability after initial high-speed taxi tests. To learn more about the SubSonex jet, John Monnett will be giving a presentation on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the Forum Pavilion 11 REMOS Aircraft.

The SubSonex isn’t the only project the engineers and designers are buzzing about in the R&D hangar. The e-Flight Initiative, started two years ago, has been challenging as Sonex has developed the entire electric power system – battery, motor, controller, and instrumentation.

The electric Waiex is powered by a 14,500-kilowatt hour battery that operates at 325 volts and 200 amps. The battery is rated for operations of up to 600 volts so there is plenty of extra juice. The 55-kilowatt motor produces about the same amount of power as a 74-hp engine, which is roughly equivalent to the Sonex AeroVee engine. Sonex General Manager Jeremy Monnett estimates the battery can power the motor for an hour of flying time and said it takes about four hours to charge.

The cockpit couldn’t be more clean and simple. “There are two switches and a throttle,” said Jeremy. “That’s all you’ve got.”

To see the electric Waiex and learn more about the motor design, Pete Buck, Lockheed Martin engineer and Sonex partner, will be giving a presentation on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Aviation Learning Center – Stage 2. Andrew Pearce, developer of the controller, a Gilbarco Engineer and also a Sonex partner, will make a presentation on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. in the Aviation Learning Center.

The SubSonex jet will be on display in the Sonex booth located in the North Aircraft Display Area, booth #622, as well as a new turbo conversion being developed for the AeroVee engine.

The turbo engine will produce about 100 hp and weighs 185 pounds. A standard AeroVee produces about 74 hp and weighs 160 pounds. With the new engine, “you’re adding more than one horsepower per pound,” said John. It is designed so it will fit in the cowling of existing Sonex aircraft so it is an easy upgrade.

Watch video of both taxi tests online at www.AirVenture.org.

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