AirVenture and Paris: What a difference

By Robert Mark on July 26th, 2007

At the Paris Airshow and it’s counterpart in Farnborough England, the emphasis is clear … which company can announce more commercial airplane deals than another. That’s not bad by any means. But all aviation experiences are not created equal.

At the EAA’s AirVenture extravaganza in Oshkosh Wisconsin each year, tens of thousands of aviation enthusiasts (including Jetwhine’s editor) show up to watch and wonder, more often than buy. 

We come to see new airplanes and products certainly, but also for an occasional glimpse of what’s to come.  This year, Eclipse rolled out a new single-engine concept jet, Cirrus plans to build a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) as does Cessna with their new 162. There was also considerable talk about green airplanes which have recently become an industry focus now that the pendulum has swung to belief in a changing environment.

It was also clear at Air Venture however, that some companies have been involved in “e for environment” efforts for sometime. One company, Sonex Aircraft based at Oshkosh’s Wittman Airport, in partnership with AeroConversions took center stage at AeroShell Square on July 24 to unveil a number of powerplant alternatives that may well set new industry standards. The Sonex research and development team produced the e-Flight Initiative to explore viable alternative energies for powering sport aircraft, all designed to keep aviation affordable.

The first option was a proof-of-concept electric powerplant installed in a Sonex-built Waiex airframe. The motor, controller, battery pack and charging system are being developed to determine the feasibility of marketing a line of Sonex airplanes using some AeroConversions products. The electric powerplant has been in development for more than ten years by Sonex owner John Monet and associate Pete Buck.

Wait, There’s More

A second option involves converting the AeroConversions AeroVee 2.0 gasoline powerplant to run on ethanol. A look at new fuels is also part of a Sonex/AeroConversions focus on the possibility that 100LL may cease to exist at some point as some oil producers have mentioned.

Sonex and AeroConversions have begun looking at ethanol fuels because of their lower emissions, more affordable costs and greater engine horsepower production possibilities.

Sonex also partnered with Renew Fuel Stations, another Oshkosh-based company, that offers 11 alternative fuel stations around Wisconsin, perfect for multiple leg flights in an ethanol-powered Sonex test airplane.

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One Response to “AirVenture and Paris: What a difference”

  1. Mal Gormley Says:

    Good to hear more news that our industry is finally starting to Think Green, and I suspect EAA will play a significant role in that effort.

    For those of us who have to work for a living, I appreciate your on-scene report. Let’s hear more, huh?


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