Diesel Airplane Design Aims For Maximum Efficiency

by on 03/05/11 at 12:00 pm

Kalispell, Montana isn’t exactly known as a hotspot of aerospace innovation. But John McGinnis is hoping to change that. McGinnis unveiled an interesting new aircraft design over the weekend at the CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium in California.

The airplane is called “Synergy” and the airplane brings together quite a few cutting edge aerospace ideas in an effort to create an efficient and roomy design. The design features a visually striking “double box tail” that reduces the induced drag, a byproduct of lift that slows an aircraft down.

McGinnis told the Experimental Aircraft Association the design is capable of “glider-like efficiency of a 46-foot wingspan packed into a much stronger 32-foot package.”

A full size version of the airplane has not yet flown, but a 1/4-scale electric version has been flying for several years. Eventually McGinnis hopes to use diesel to power the airplane. The prototype is being designed around a 200 horsepower diesel engine that has been in development for many years.

The wing span of Synergy stretches 32 feet and it has a total wing area of 144.6 square feet. With a gross weight of around 3,100 pounds, the design currently is shown with five seats.

Aviation history is filled with enthusiastic designs like Synergy, and few ever make it to full scale prototypes. And fewer yet make it in to the hands of pilots. Unlike many of his predecessors, McGinnis has been careful not to build too much hype around his design until he can get a prototype flying. He hopes the grassroots effort will be able to finish the airplane for a competition this summer.

McGinnis hopes to enter his airplane in the NASA/CAFE Green Flight Challenge this July. More than $1.5 million dollars is up for grabs in the competition that stresses efficient and practical aircraft designs. But with time running out and lacking any deep pockets to finance the effort, Synergy might not be ready in time.

More images of Synergy after the jump.

Images: Experimental Aircraft Association