Slovenia-based light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel had its all-electric Alpha Electro aircraft approved to fly in Australia and the aircraft will now go into operation in Perth.
The company even started serial production of the aircraft after seeing an increase in demand.
Battery technology is rapidly improving allowing for new applications such as electric flight.
Right now, most companies are considering what it means for commercial jets, such as Airbus building an electric airplane prototype with Rolls-Royce and Siemens or the startup Wright Electric partnering with easyJet to bring an all-electric airplane to market. .
But the reality is that smaller light aircraft will first be electrified before those massive commercial aircraft.
That was the idea behind Pipistrel's Alpha Electro
It is a 2-seat electric trainer adapted to the needs of flight schools. The fully composite body with electric motor and 20 kWh battery packs weighs a total of 350 kg and has a maximum load of 200 kg.
The company says the plane can stay in the air for an hour, with an additional 30 minutes to reserve.
Ivo Boscarol, CEO of Pipistrel, says:
“With the ever-increasing cost of fuel, it's time to rethink pilot training. Our solution is the first fully electric practical trainer! Technologies specially developed for this aircraft reduce the cost of ab-initio pilot training by up to 70%, making flying more affordable than ever. Being able to conduct training at smaller airfields close to cities with zero C02 emissions and minimal noise is also a game changer! Alpha Electro meets microlight and ASTM LSA criteria, as well as electric propulsion standards. Alpha Electro is our fifth electric aircraft project and the second to turn out as a commercial product. "
They are finding enough success with the electric aircraft that they are bringing it into series production:
Richard Charlton, the chief financial officer of Electro.Aero, which completed the plane's first flight in Australia last week, said in his statement to Australian Aviation that it was a smooth first flight.
“It was very relaxed. We were in the pattern behind a normal plane and the control tower was very excited. They knew everything about what was happening. "
Charlton said the plane was much quieter and simpler to operate than an equivalent-size plane, powered by piston engines.
“The main problem with gasoline is the cost of maintaining a more complex engine. The electric motor is really simple. It has a moving part, it is a very small piece of equipment and it is a solid state motor. "
Electro.Aero offers test instruction flights and wants to expand to other airports, especially those where noise pollution could be a problem.
Boscarol suggests that his Alpha Electro and other all-electric training aircraft could help reduce the cost of becoming a pilot:
“Technologies developed especially for this aircraft reduced the cost of pilot training by up to 70 percent, making flying more affordable than ever. The biggest advantage is being able to carry out training in smaller aerodromes closer to cities with zero CO2 emissions and minimal noise ”.
The cost of operation is also extremely low (~ $ 3 per flight at $ 0.15 per kWh) and the battery can be charged fairly quickly thanks to its small size or it can be replaced for a quicker change. The batteries on this aircraft are expected to be viable for approximately 1000 flight hours.
Original article (in English)