Oshkosh’s AirVenture 2016 included a big infusion event

The big annual airshow featured the on-site infusion of complete aircraft fuselages for two kit aircraft.

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More than half a million visitors attended the 2016 edition of the Experimental Aircraft Assn.’s (EAA) AirVenture airshow event held in Oshkosh, WI, US. The annual gathering offered some highlights, including The Boeing Co.’s (Chicago, IL, US) Centennial celebration of 100 years in aviation. Boeing aircraft on display and in the air show included a 737-900ER, in Centennial livery, a 767 FedEx freighter, and a 747-8 Cathay Pacific freighter. 

Epic Aircraft LLC (Bend, OR, US), the manufacturer of an all-carbon composite single-engine turboprop, went big and launched an around-the-word “Odyssey” world tour, involving 26 people and 6 aircraft, prior to the event. The tour began in Oshkosh on July 6, and ended there after a 21-day, 15,000-mile adventure around the globe. Doug King, Epic’s CEO, endorsed the tour as a way to validate the integrity of the plane’s design and performance, as well as give owners an opportunity to enhance their flying skills.

Airbus Group (Leiden, The Netherlands) used the Oshkosh event to debut its Airbus E-Fan hybrid electric aircraft for the first time in the US. The E-Fan 1.1, an all-electric powered plane, made a splash in 2015 when it successfully flew across the English Channel under electric power. The latest version of the aircraft on display, E-Fan 1.2, incorporates a hybrid electric/gas engine developed by Airbus in partnership with Siemens (Munich, Germany), Airbus says that it is committed to developing the hybrid concept to greatly reduce carbon emissions in flight, reduce noise, and allow quieter, less-polluting taxiing while on the ground. Siemens announced in April that a joint development team of more than 200 employees will be assembled to develop breakthrough innovations in electric mobility for commercial aircraft.  More info on the E-Fan can be found at BeAFanofEFan.com.  

Another aircraft at Oshkosh for the first time was the VL3 Evolution made by JMB Aircraft s.r.o (Chocen, Czech Republic), reportedly the fastest ultralight aircraft to date, at 135 kts/155 mph cruising speed. Two of the low-wing, two-seat craft flew to the show from Europe, arriving in Oshkosh on July 23. With a carbon composite airframe, the VL3 has removable wings to ease transport; wing skins are stiff sandwich structures made with carbon and glass, with no internal ribs. Watch a video of the plane’s landing at Wittman Field here, after a trans-Atlantic trip: http://www.jmbaircraft.com/news.html.

Innegra Technologies (Greenville, South Carolina) spearheaded the Advanced Composite Infusion event during the show, a four-day demonstration overseen by Innegra’s Russ Emanis and conducted at the Replica Fighter Assn. tent. Two complete aircraft fuselages were infused:  The first, a light sport aircraft (LSA) kit plane, the Star-Lite was molded using resin donated by Scott Bader-ATC(Stow, OH, US) and woven reinforcements from Texonic (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC, Canada). The second, a canard-wing kit plane designed by Jeff Kerlo, was molded using epoxy resin donated by Composite Polymer Design/Endurance Technologies (South St. Paul, MN, US) and TeXtreme spread-tow carbon fiber fabrics from Oxeon (Borås, Sweden). 

Emanis says distributor Composites One (Arlington Heights, IL, US) had two technical specialists on hand to help with the processing, and German Advanced Composites (Miami, FL, US) donated its MTI infusion hoses. Molds for the demos were provided by Star-Lite’s owner Brian Burghgraves, and by Kerlo and Emanis, who together are developing the canard aircraft for future kit-plane sales. Scott Bader donated materials for the canard aircraft’s pre-event mold construction, including its Seamless Tooling compound for the plugs, tooling gel coat and a tooling resin to make the finished molds. Hawkeye Industries Inc. (Bloomington, CA, US) supplied mold releases, fairing compounds, tooling materials and more. DIAB Americas LP (DeSoto, TX, US)  provided core material, and T.E.A.M. Inc.(Wonsocket, RI, US) committed to sponsoring/supplying reinforcement products for the demo as well.  “This is all about education,” says Emanis. “We  demonstrated single bag and double-bag infusion methods, and people saw the differences between epoxy and vinyl ester infusion.” Multiple videos from all four days are available on the company's Web site: http://www.innegratech.com/aciosh16. You can also get information about Innegra and the infusion demonstrations on the company's Facebook page:www.facebook.com/acioshkosh.