One of the most novel technology ventures in Cambridge’s distinguished business history is flying high on the wings of goodwill and innovation. e-Go aeroplanes has gone into serial production of its ultra-lightweight, hi-tech single seater plane after a high profile launch at its Conington headquarters north west of Cambridge.
It has designed and is now manufacturing very lightweight, hi-tech aircraft using the new freedoms from regulation offered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
Investors and supporters gathered at a launch event where CEO William Burnett (pictured above) officially became the first buyer of the aircraft. Now the young company is targeting potential customers on both sides of the Atlantic. Cambridge investors have been instrumental in supporting the project to date including lead backer Herman Hauser, the Cambridge Capital Group and The Angel CoFund with British Business Bank backing. SyndicateRoom support resulted in crowdfunding investment.
Business Weekly understands that e-Go aeroplanes will be seeking to raise an additional £1 million growth capital in the not-too-distant future, hopefully from existing investors but if necessary dipping into a pool of new backers who have flagged up their potential interest.
e-Go aeroplanes is promoting a distinct usp in that the aircraft is fun to fly with very low cost of ownership – just £15 per flying hour when the accepted norm is £150 for leisure aircraft.
Previous rounds of funding allowed the company to build a prototype, which first flew in October 2013. Additional funding was raised to complete over 100 test flights and refine the aircraft prior to production.
Under a strict testing regime, the design has been honed to meet industry and self-imposed standards, the latter with an eye on the Light Sports Aircraft category in the US.
Tooling and jigs have been created, and the first production e-Go aeroplanes aircraft is in the hands of William Burnett as the first customer. With Research & Development complete, a significant milestone has been reached.
Following what had been a staged and measurable approach, e-Go aeroplanes will shortly be looking for additional investment to allow it to enter the next phase – full production.
The aircraft is unusual; it is breathtakingly simple in design, meeting an exacting specification in the Single Seat De-Regulated (SSDR) microlight aircraft category that is both exciting and attracting worldwide attention.
The market niche for e-Go aeroplanes, which sits between high-end and budget, is readily identifiable. The aim is not to compete head on with other aircraft that follow the more traditional 2-seat, side-by side design but to be different – to use materials such as pre-impregnated carbon fibre, processes, and technologies that have been well developed and refined in other fields such as automotive and Formula 1 and apply them to aviation.
Powered by a UK manufactured Wankel rotary engine of just 30hp, and using standard un-leaded petrol, the aircraft is economical and can be transported in its own trailer for owners who do not wish to pay for hangarage at a local airfield.
Concentrating initially on the 60,000 pilots licensed to fly in the UK, the aim is to sell aircraft into the US market which has over 10x as many pilots. US certification will also facilitate sales opportunities elsewhere in the world. Significant UK interest has already been shown from individual pilots and those seeking to share an aircraft in a syndicate.
The aircraft is marketed as a ’fun flying machine’, and those pilots who have had the opportunity to fly the prototype truly enjoy the experience and are thrilled by its performance.
The chief test pilot, Keith Dennison, demonstrated the agility and manoeuvrability of the aircraft at the recent launch of the first production aircraft. He said: “‘I have had the pleasure to fly many types of aircraft around the world – but this is really a fun flying machine. It has a fighter-like feel with a turn rate that’s more fun than a fast jet.”