Brazilian Students Build Record-Breaking Aircraft
CEA 308 is the world’s fastest plane under 660 pounds gross weight.
A professor and students from the Brazilian University UFMG (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais) joined forces to design and build an aircraft called the CEA 308 that broke no less than four world records! The records have been recently ratified by the FAI in the category of aircraft with piston engine, propeller, and total takeoff weight of up to 300 kilograms. The record flights were made in December 2010.
The record-breaking venture started when Paulo Iscold, engineer and professor at the UMFG, launched the idea of building an aircraft with his students with the thought of improving their learning process. This ambitious project, undertaken as part of an academic work of the Aeronautical Engineering Course, eventually led to the building of the aircraft CEA 308.
On December 1 and 2, 2010, after years of preparation and tests, the aircraft with Captain Gunar Armin Halboth at the helm took off from the Airport of Juiz de Fora – Minas Gerais State (SDZY), chosen for technical reasons as well as its symbolism; Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont was born at a nearby farm. During these two days, four world records were broken.
On the first day of the record attempts, the time to climb to 3,000 meters (more than 10,000 feet) was only 8 minutes and 15 seconds. The previous world record, set in Russia, was 13 minutes and 40 seconds. They hadn’t initially planned to try for the climb record, as the plane is a racer, but its performance was so good they knew that it could set a new record. Later that day, two more records fell as they achieved 329.1 kilometers/hour over a 15-kilometer course and 326 kilometers/hour over a longer 100-kilometer out-and-return closed course.
The second day was devoted to the more demanding and prestigious record which is speed over a 3-kilometer course. The record must be flown within 100 meters of the ground where air density and turbulence become important factors and the measurement must be based on the average of four consecutive passes. On the first attempt, he averaged 355 kilometers/hour, but unfortunately on one of the passes his altitude reached 104 meters, disqualifying the attempt. A second attempt yielded four good passes and an average speed of 360.13 kilometers/hour (or 194.45 knots). For more information, read Professor Paulo Iscold’s blog that describes the days of the world record flights and more.