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Electric Waiex Achieves First Flight

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The proof-of-concept electric powered Waiex N270DC climbs out of ground effect above Runway 27 with John Monnett at the controls.

John Monnett (left) and Jeremy Monnett (right) share a handshake and big smiles as they celebrate this outstanding achievement. Photos courtesy Sonex Aircraft, LLC.

December 3, 2010 —A proof-of-concept electric-powered Waiex aircraft achieved its first flight today (December 3) at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Piloted by Sonex Founder John Monnett, N270DC made an intentional short hop on Runway 27 to break ground-effect and analyze in-flight system performance as the next step in testing. The uneventful flight was the culmination of four years of development for the Sonex Aircraft, LLC, E-Flight Initiative.

“Every first flight of a new aircraft or powerplant design is an interesting experience,” said Sonex Founder 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.”

N270DC is a standard Waiex kit aircraft modified with the installation of proprietary E-Flight electric power components: The E-Flight 54-kilowatt brushless DC electric motor, E-Flight electronic motor controller, a 14.5kilowatt-hour lithium polymer battery system, the E-Flight battery management system, and E-Flight cockpit instrumentation and controls.

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.

“We have a flight envelope expansion plan and will be working on this in the coming weeks and months. We have also already started our motor version 4.0 design and motor controller version 12.0 to be integrated on N270DC,” said Jeremy Monnett, CEO and General Manager of Sonex Aircraft. The E-Flight Initiative electric flight project was first announced to the public at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2007.

Follow the progress of the E-Flight initiative at the Sonex Aircraft, LLC’s Hornets’ Nest Research and Development blog.


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