Sonex Onex Overshadowed by R&D Stars

By Scott Spangler on September 9th, 2009

Unveiling the projects gestating in the Sonex R&D department, the Hornet’s Nest, during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the SubSonex jet and E-Flight Power System (covered last week in Jet & ESA Fly From Sonex Hornet’s Nest) got all the attention, says Sonex Aircraft’s Mark Schaible, “but what we’re really excited about is the Onex, pronounced One-X.”

JetWhine_Sonex-Onex-Profile An aerobatic single-seater with folding wings powered by an 80-hp AeroVee engine, the three-view shows both nosewheel and taildragger configurations. Design limits are +6 and -3 gs at its 850-pound maximum gross weight. It weighs 540 pounds empty and carries 14 gallons of fuel. It is 16-foot-5 long, has an 18-foot-9 wingspan, stalls at 45 mph, redlines at 216 mph, and sport pilots can fly it, says Sonex CEO Jeremy Monnett.

Should the kit come to market, Jeremy says the single-seater will cost less than the two-seat Sonex and Waiex kits, which builders can complete for around $25,000. “If the design team accomplishes our primary goals…then we could expect a completed Onex to run right around $20K, including propeller, instruments, upholstery, engine, engine accessories, and complete airframe kit.”

The Onex was born from the fact that 90 percent of all sport flying is solo, Jeremy says. A single-seater means fewer parts, less construction time with fewer tools, and better performance for less money. The folding wings make the Onex easy to trailer, so pilots can haul it to and from the airport like a boat, says Sonex Founder John Monnett. “Eventually we’d like to have it on floats, so it would be really nice to take it out to the boat landing, drop the wings, and away you go.”

JetWhine_Sonex-Onex Two levers control the wing locking mechanisms, one for each wing, and folding the wings takes less time “than a walk around,” says John, “so you can go fly it around for an hour in the evening and bring it home.” And it will fit in the garage; in the folded position, the Onex is 7 feet tall. Or you can get a gaggle of five in a standard T-hangar, according to a Sonex diagram, or two can share the space with a Cessna 172. The model, with the VW bus and Bug is all to scale, John says.

Sonex hopes to introduce the Onex at EAA AirVenture 2010, John says, adding, “you’ll be able to fit in it without any problem,” referring to my 6-foot-5 elevation, 38-inch inseam, and size 15 clodhoppers. Sonex hopes to start cutting metal soon for the prototype, and I volunteered for a fit test when they were ready. “The fuselage is 27 inches wide and the seating position is a little more supine, a little more laid back than the Sonex.”

JetWhine_Sonex-prop On the way out of the Hornet’s Nest, John laid his hand on a gleaming black prop blade. A pre-production model, “this is something Sensenich is developing for us, a composite ground-adjustable prop for our VW-based engines and our Jabiru engines, which turn the other way.” It meets the Sonex form factor for spinners, which are smaller than found on most airplanes. Under the spinner cap is a unit “that adjusts both blades at once, so there is no guesswork,” and it will meet almost every Sonex application, except, naturally, the SubSonex.

Almost as an afterthought, John concluded our visit by noting that they are also working on an electronic ignition that is a magneto replacement. “It’s taken from our ignition system that’s on our AeroVees and is adaptable to Continentals and Lycomings.” Asking if there were anything else, they said to stay tuned to the Hornet’s Nest website for updates. Will do.—Scott Spangler


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