Innovation: Plastic plane that fits in your own garage: Aircraft made from a kit offers freedom of the skies on a tank of petrol

OPEN the garage door, pull out a trailer carrying a small two-seat aeroplane with wings detached, hitch up the trailer and drive to the petrol station to fill the aeroplane's tanks with unleaded fuel. Then drive to the large field that a local farmer lets you use.

Remove the plane from the trailer and attach the wings and tailplane - in less than five minutes - and take off in 100 yards. Climb rapidly and cruise at over 130mph for up to 500 miles, using less than 2.5 gallons of fuel an hour, then travel up to 500 miles before landing.

This sounds improbable: even more so when you learn that the aeroplane is made from a pounds 20,000 kit. Called the Europa, it has been designed and manufactured at Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire, by Ivan Shaw, a retired commercial pilot.

Aircraft designers have long hankered after a vehicle that converts from a car to a plane. The Europa is not quite that, but it has cut the cost of having your own plane by eliminating the need to use an airport and by using petrol rather than the more expensive aviation fuel. Mr Shaw has sold 35 Europa kits since launching the model earlier this year.

The Europa is made of plastics, or composites, which are light but extremely strong. They have been widely used by home-build aeroplane designers for 20 years and are now increasingly a substitute for metal alloys in commercial airliners and warplanes.

The Europa's fuselage, which comes in two halves, is formed from glass and carbon fibre laminates. The wings and tail are made from a foam similar to that used in furniture upholstery. The wing was designed by Shaw and Don Dykins, who as chief aerodynamist at British Aerospace was responsible for the wing design of the European Airbus.

The Europa's wings allow it to perform safely and efficiently at very low speeds. This means the Europa can take off and land in a short distance, and cruise with stability at altitude. The engine is a Rotax 912, originally developed to power a snowmobile.

Mr Shaw's company, Europa Aviation, won a pounds 100,000 grant from the Department of Trade and Industry recently in recognition of its use of advanced technology and innovation in light aircraft production. Worldwide, manufacturers are selling around 3,000 plane kits a year, far outstripping production of commercially available light aircraft.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most