Fly before you buy

The e-Go aircraft may not be in production yet, but you can try it now.

e-go-simulator-in-flighte-Go aeroplanes has developed an x-plane simulator that anyone can download for free from its website at www.e-Go.me. (You also need a copy of the x-plane package, which is $39 from www.x-plane.com).

The simulation, which features a 3D cockpit and graphics developed by x-plane expert Hal Parfitt-Murray, provides representative handling of the real aircraft throughout the flight envelope, including low speed handling (e.g. stalls) and maneuvers such as side-slips. It runs on quite basic machines, including most PCs, Macs and Linux computers. You can use anything from mouse and keyboard up to a full set of joystick, throttle and rudders.

The e-Go’s story began in 2007, when the UK’s Civil Airworthiness Authority decided to de-regulate light aircraft within some tight design parameters. The Light Aircraft Association organized a design competition for aircraft that would meet this new class. The state-of-the-art category was won by Cambridge aeronautical engineers Giotto Castelli and Tony Bishop with their e-Go design.

Since then, many experts have joined the Cambridge-based project, including Cambridge University research staff and students, specialists from local aerospace companies, pilots and light aircraft builders. Nearly 20 people are now contributing to the project.

The e-Go uses the very latest forms of carbon fiber, foam and other advanced materials to achieve high strength and performance with exceptionally low weight. It will cruise at over 100 knots (115 mph) for 400 miles. It will climb at almost 1,000 feet per minute and take off from short grass strips – with a 28 hp motor at about 80 mpg, company officials promise.

The design is almost complete after extensive computer simulations, wind tunnel tests and structural tests. Work will begin soon on building the prototype, which should be completed early in 2010.

For more information: www.e-Go.me

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