The aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel from Slovenia has just signed an MoU with Australia’s Eyre to There Aviation for the rights to manufacture Pipistrel’s small e-plane Alpha in Australia. The agreement would make Eyre to There the first Australian company to build an electric aircraft.
To start with, Eyre to There will be importing 15 aircraft from Pipistrel for training and demonstration purposes before the Australian company starts their production lines. Pipistrel says that Eyre to There could build as many as 100 electric aircraft per year.
The MoU comes at a good time for Pipistrel who has been trying to get the FAA to certify its Alpha Electro plane as Light-Sport Aircraft. At the moment, the aircraft is restricted Experimental status. An Australian company wanting to use the aircraft for training purposes is an ideal opportunity for both companies.
Eyre to There Managing Director, Barrie Rogers explains: “There are more than 250 registered flight schools in Australia using more than 3400 training aircraft. Roughly 25% of flight training covers the beginner phase, which involves circuit training for take-offs and landings as well as training near an airfield. Electric aircraft are perfectly suited for this task.”
The Pipistrel Alpha Electro can fly for around one hour plus a 30-minute reserve. The 6.5m-long aircraft can climb 1,220 feet per minute and has a cruising speed of 157km/h. The electric aircraft is powered by a 60 kW electric motor and a range of 75 nm.
“Australia is currently the only country in the world that already certifies electric aircraft for training purposes, so we have an opportunity to be a world leader,” Rogers said. He explained that the time was right to introduce the new technology, since the average age of a small, single-engine aircraft in Australia was 36.4 years, and currently many of these small aircraft need to be replaced. “We see a clear market opportunity to provide brand new, low-cost aircraft that have zero emissions,” Rogers said.