First production Pipistrel electric aircraft takes flight in Australia

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The first serially-built Pipistrel Alpha Electro took flight in Australia this month after receiving a special certificate of airworthiness from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The aircraft took off from Perth’s Jandakot Airport and conducted two circuits around it on January 2, 2018. It went on to complete another seven hours of flying over the following two days before being handed over to Electro.Aero, the aircraft’s operator.

The Alpha Electro can now be registered in Australia as either a recreational aircraft or with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Richard Charlton, finance director of Electro.Aero said in a statement that it was a smooth first flight: “It was very much without drama. We were just in the pattern behind a normal aeroplane and the control tower was very excited. They knew all about what was happening.”

Charlton added that the aircraft was much quieter and cheaper to operate than equivalent-sized aircraft, powered by piston engines: “The main issue with petrol is the maintenance costs of what is a more complex engine. The electric engine is really simple. It has one moving part, it’s a very small piece of equipment and it is a solid-state motor.”

Ivo Boscarol, general manager of Pipistrel, said, “Technologies developed specially for this aircraft cut the cost of pilot training by as much as 70%, making flying more affordable than ever before.

“The biggest advantage is being able to conduct training on smaller airfields closer to towns with zero CO₂ emissions and minimum noise.”

January 10, 2018

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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