Last year we invited e-Go Aeroplanes to join us at the Red Bull Air Race and got a first-hand look at their prototype aeroplane. About two weeks ago we went to the factory in Cambridgeshire to see the first production machine, and what a machine it is. But before talking about all the usual performance stuff, we should start by looking at where the aircraft came from.
The e-Go was designed backwards, and I don’t mean that because it has a canard configuration – the actual design philosophy seems completely backwards. The design of most aircraft starts with a set of requirements – it needs to carry this much stuff, this far this fast. There are then limitations; it might need to fit into a weight category, or budgetary restraint might be a target. The design of the e-Go comes almost entirely from restrictions, born out of what was at the time a new concept; the Single Seat De-Regulated (SSDR) category.
The new category required that the aircraft’s empty weight be no more than 115kg (it is now a max all up mass limitation of 300kg) and stall at not above 35kcas. Where others saw strict limitation, e-Go’s chief designer, Giotto Castelli, saw a challenge. In a category dominated by “tube and fabric” designs – largely with open cockpits – the e-Go has clearly been designed with the aim of delivering the absolute maximum capability possible.
The aircraft is almost constructed almost exclusively from pre-preg carbon fibre composite, with foam cores in the flying surfaces. The aircraft is manufactured and pre-cured in the company’s own facilities before being sent away for a final blast in the autoclave.
It’s powered by a 30hp Wankel rotary engine that drives a two-bladed fixed-pitch pusher prop via a drive belt and is capable of achieving a 90kias cruise. The canard design means it is extremely resistant to spinning and stall characteristics are said to be very benign also. In order to reduce weight, the aircraft is not painted but rather vinyl wrapped, which results in an extremely fine-looking finish.
The e-Go and e-Go+ are differentiated only by the avionics fit, with the ‘plus’ having a glass cockpit instead of steam gauges and a Trig Avionics mode-S transponder. The e-Go costs £50k and the ‘plus’ £60k, plus VAT in both cases.