WALKING DOWN the flightline, the E-Flight Waiex won’t turn any heads. It’s the same tried and true airframe that Sonex Aircraft LLC has been producing since the late ’90s. It’s what’s under the cowling and
in the cockpit that’s special. Because it is a proven aircraft
design with a new powerplant, EAA’s editorial team crowned
it the Class of 2011’s Most Likely to Succeed. We feel it will
prove to be another example of the homebuilt community
experimenting and developing viable new technologies that
will eventually make their way into certified aircraft.
In December 2010, the E-Flight Waiex made its first flight,
marking a critical step in developing a proof-of-concept
electric motor powerplant, controller, battery pack, and
THE ELEKTRA ONE is more than a single-seat, electric-powered aircraft from German company PC- Aero. It’s a complete concept with a solar hangar that
will recharge the aircraft’s batteries. The company said the
aircraft-hangar combination would come on the market for
less than € 100,000 (around $145,000).
Calin Gologan, PC-Aero CEO and developer of the Elektra,
said, “This is the future of leisure aviation as a bridge to
the next step: electric transportation.” With this integrated
approach, our editorial team deemed this project the Most
Visionary in the Class of 2011.
charging system. Sonex first announced its E-Flight Initiative at EAA AirVenture in 2007, with the goal of installing its
electric powerplant in an airframe optimized for the power
system called ESA (for Electric Sport Aircraft).
The system includes the E-Flight 54-k W brushless DC
electric motor, electronic motor controller, a 14.5-k W/h lithium-polymer battery system, battery management system,
and cockpit instrumentation and controls. Flights with the
v3.0 motor will continue into early summer to evaluate the
total power and maximum duration for that motor, controller, and battery combination as well as to compile data on
the charging capabilities. Sonex is finalizing control systems
for a fourth iteration of its electric motor. The design will
have more sophisticated control systems.
CEO and General Manager Jeremy Monnett said the company’s advantage is in its use of already proven components
such as the airframe and propeller. It also owns all of the
components of its electric powerplant, helping keep costs
down when it comes time to establish pricing for the aircraft.
The company plans to begin testing and flying the v4.0 motor in July but won’t begin work on an optimized airframe
until it is completely satisfied with the powerplant. Only
once everything comes together will Sonex begin to talk pricing and availability.
The Elektra One made its first flight on March 19 with Jon
Karkow, lead aero engineer for ICON Aircraft, at the controls.
Karkow flew to an altitude of 500 meters ( 1,640 feet) at a
climb rate of 400 fpm and said the aircraft was stable and
had good control and landing characteristics. Norbert Lorenzen, PC-Aero’s primary test pilot, also was impressed with
the good flight performance despite the low engine power.
“The acceleration with the 16-k W motor was surprisingly
good. The handling and response was very good. In the air it
feels most like a glider,” Lorenzen said.
PC-Aero claims the aircraft will provide more than three
hours’ flight endurance with a range of more than 400 kilometers (about 250 miles). The electric drive system, including
a 13.5-k W (continuous/16-k W maximum power) brushless
electric motor, controller, battery management, and three-blade propeller comes from Geiger Engineering of Germany.
The airframe is made from lightweight composites and
weighs in at 100 kilograms (220 pounds) empty, including
the motor. The landing gear is a single, center wheel, and
the takeoff distance is 150 to 200 meters (about 500 to 650
feet), according to Lorenzen. The aircraft will soon get a new
variable-pitch propeller and a retractable gear.
The Elektra One is in the German Ultralight LTF-UL-cate-gory with certification expected by the end of the year.
PHOTOGRAPHY COUR TESY OF SONEX AIRCRAFT AND PC-AERO
AIRCRAFT MAKE & MODEL:
Sonex E-Flight Waiex
LENGTH: 18 feet, 1 inch
WINGSPAN: 22 feet
HEIGHT: 51 inches
MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT: 1, 100 pounds
EMPTY WEIGHT: 861 pounds
POWERPLANT MAKE & MODEL: E-Flight 54-k W
BATTERY: 14.5-k W/h lithium polymer pack
HORSEPOWER: 73 ( 54 k W)
PROPELLER: Sensenich fixed pitch wood
CRUISE SPEED: TBD
VNE: 197 mph
VSO: 40 mph
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
AIRCRAFT MAKE & MODEL:
PC-Aero Elektra One
WING SPAN: 28. 2 feet ( 8. 6 meters)
WING SURFACE: 21 square feet
( 6. 4 square meters)
MAXIMUM WEIGHT: 661 pounds
EMPTY WEIGHT (WITHOUT BATTERIES):
220 pounds ( 100 kilograms)
POWERPLANT MAKE & MODEL: 13.5-k W
MAX. BATTERY WEIGHT: 220 pounds
( 100 kilograms)
PRICE: $145,000 (€ 100,000) airplane and
hangar with batteries and solar panels to
recharge the aircraft
FOR MORE INFORMATION: