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
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
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.