Sonex's AeroVee Turbo–Powered Waiex Makes First Flight
AeroVee Turbo–powered Waiex returns after successful test flight. Notice the factory prototype Waiex’s side-exhaust ports in the cowling are now covered for the new exhaust configuration of the turbo installation.
Turbo/AeroInjector “pull-through” installation. All photos courtesy Sonex Aircraft LLC.
September 9, 2010 — The Sonex’s turbo-powered Waiex began flight testing last week (September 3) with impressive early results according to Sonex’s Mark Schaible. Using its AeroVee engine, Sonex’s Hornets’ Nest Research and Development (R&D) fitted a free-floating turbocharger with a fixed wastegate to the engine with the goal of increasing output to 100 hp. The initial test flights, flown by Sonex builder and R&D volunteer Drew Waterworth, showed a significant increase in cruise and climb performance. Schaible says they hope the new turbo system will provide a comparable alternative to the more powerful 120-hp Jabiru engine while staying sport pilot compliant.
Sonex hopes the project will yield an economical, lightweight, simple, and reliable retrofit turbocharging system for the AeroVee engine. Non-turbocharged engines (normally aspirated) lose performance as altitude increases, whereas a turbocharged engine in essence maintains the initial ground level engine performance regardless of altitude. According to Schaible the AeroVee Turbo will be optimized for the sport pilot altitude operating envelope, which tops out at 10,000 feet. That means increased takeoff power and increased power at altitude from an engine weighing 185 pounds.
To stay sport pilot compliant Schaible says the AeroVee Turbo is designed to run with a fixed-pitch prop. The test aircraft is currently using a ground-adjustable prop to help tweak the turbo system. Subsequent flights will be used to “dial in” the prop and boost settings, but according to Schaible the turbo “shows a lot of promise.” Testing on the turbo may wrap up this fall if weather cooperates; otherwise, the development program will resume in the spring of 2011.