SMB Innovation: e-Go Aeroplanes

3 November 2014

2 min read

Hazel Davis, from the Telegraph, interviews Malcolm Bird, the chairman of e-Go Aeroplanes: an SMB with technologically advanced aircraft that has lowered the cost of taking to the air.

SMB Innovation: e-Go Aeroplanes (Desktop)

Malcolm Bird, chairman of e-Go AeroplanesMalcolm Bird, chairman of e-Go Aeroplanes

What’s the big idea?

Flying is becoming too expensive and smothered by red tape. It can typically cost £150 per hour to take an aircraft flying (after the cost of getting a pilot’s licence). In 2007 the Civil Aviation Authority agreed to remove all red tape for aircraft weighing less than 115kg. So e-Go Aeroplanes was set up to exploit this and create a technologically advanced aircraft that is great fun to fly.

The two founders, Tony Bishop and Giotto Castelli, outlined the design for the e-Go and it won the Light Aircraft Association competition in late 2007.

"We spent the next few years testing manufacturing techniques using modern lightweight materials. By 2011 we were confident in our approach and angel funding got the building of the prototype under way," said Malcolm Bird.

In 2013, the prototype first flew. It was decided that the equity would be sold via the SyndicateRoom crowdfunding platform as it is regulated by the FCA and attracts investment from small and angel investors. Building a hi-tech, ultra-modern aircraft is not cheap, but through a combination of crowdfunding and support from business angels, e-Go received more than £950,000 in investments. The first production model will start before the end of 2014.

Both Tony and Giotto are aeronautical engineers. The chief designer is Giotto, who has always had an interest in canard designs (with the small wing at the front). He believes it gives the aircraft efficiency, looks, safety and a great view for the pilot. Tony oversaw the style of the company and initiated the operational side, finding supporters to help with product development and operations.

The secret to my success

From the outset the company has tried to do a great deal from very little. The operational costs of e-Go aeroplanes is very low and we have been hugely supported by volunteers.

A mixed team of staff and volunteers can move mountains when they are informed, supported and thanked for their efforts.

What drives you?

We love the challenge of bringing some real innovation back to the British aviation industry. We used to be great at designing and producing innovative aircraft but this has all but disappeared. We aim to bring back some of the spark.

Where next?

The focus is on getting the product on to the market. We have plans for the international market, the electric e-Go, a three-seater and more.

How technology has helped

We are using modern materials, such as carbon fibre, and we are benefiting from UK engine developments of the small Wankel engine by Rotron. We are using well-proven parts from the automotive sector but bringing these all together for aviation without the burden of masses of red tape that would otherwise kill the company

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