Alpha Electro - an Electric Pipistrel

A European company with a solid presence at this year Oshkosh was Pipistrel. The aircraft that took my fancy was the Alpha Electro, a two place side by side aircraft targeting the training market.

Talking with one of the engineers I was surprised to learn that one of the biggest challenges was development of the battery management system rather than the batteries themselves or the motor.

A 220-volt, 40-amp circuit would allow you to recharge in a little over an hour. Although it is possible to remove and swap the batteries they are quite heavy, so the most likely mode of operation will be charging with the batteries installed. But the charging time is about the time it takes to debrief the last student and brief the next so charging will probably not be the limiting factor in sortie rate.

A neat feature is the regenerative braking from the propeller during descent that helps to extend sortie times to around an hour of pattern work with a half-hour reserve.

The instrument panel is a nice mix of analog presentation for airspeed and altitude with digital for aircraft systems.

A list price of $136,000 USD puts it in line with other LSA aircraft and makes it one of the first practical electric aircraft.

Nigel Speedy

Nigel Speedy started flying helicopters with the Australian Army and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He currently instructs at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California. Nigel enjoys flying his Van's RV-8 and the freedom of E/A-B to experiment.

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