2 January 2018 (UPDATED 13 January 2018) © David Eyre
Electro.Aero today made a historic first Australian flight of its electric-powered Slovenian-built Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft (registered 23-0938) at Jandakot Airport, south of Perth, Western Australia.
While some experimental electric aircraft flights have been undertaken in Australia, this was the first flight of a production electric aircraft in Australia.
In October 2017, Electro.Aero received Australian Light Sport Airport (LSA) certification for the world’s first factory-built electric aircraft – the Pipistrel Alpha Electro. The two-seat aircraft is the first electric aircraft in Australia to be certified for flight training and is able to fly from controlled airports.
The aircraft was delivered by sea to Fremantle in a shipping container and trucked to Jandakot.
On its first flight on 2 January 2018, the aircraft flew two circuits at Jandakot and the company reported that the first flight went very smoothly, with the aircraft taking off again soon afterwards to begin training flying instructors who will train new pilots on the aircraft.
“It really is the quietest light aircraft that any of us have ever seen” said Electro.Aero Finance Director, Richard Charlton. “This is the start of the next revolution in general aviation. We are already fielding enquiries from airports located in major cities where noise complaints have become their number one concern.”
UPDATE: On 13 January 2018, Electro.Aero took its first students flying. The first student, Adam Gibbs, is already a pilot and loved his Trial Instructional Flight. “It’s very familiar, but also very different,” he said. “Nice and calm to fly, I loved it!”
Electro.Aero initially offers trial instructional flights at a cost of $220 for two hours. They will later offer flight training for a recreational pilot certificate.
The aircraft is expected to cut the cost of ab-initio pilot training by up to 70 per cent, with zero CO2 emissions (if you exclude CO2 emissions from electricity production) and reduced noise – an important consideration for Jandakot Airport, which has become surrounded by urban growth.
Pipistrel Alpha Electro
- 60kW electric engine (solid state motor)
- Battery charge time: 45 minutes
- Endurance: 90 minutes (60 minutes with a 30-minute reserve).
- Cruise speed: 85 knots
- Takeoff distance: 265 metres
- Landing distance: 460 metres
- Empty weight: 380 kg
- Maximum takeoff weight: 550 kg
- Electricity cost: $3 per hour (compared to $30/hour for petrol engine)
- Aircraft Cost: $150,000
- Ballistic Recovery Parachute
Electro.Aero was founded in 2014 by Western Australian engineer and entrepreneur Josh Portlock. In May 2016, the company flew their FlyKart personal air vehicle technology demonstrator, which was presented at the Electric Aircraft Symposium in San Francisco.
In July 2016, the company was confirmed as the Asia-Pacific distributor of the Sun Flyer, the world’s first FAR Part 23 certified electric aircraft, for professional pilot training.
In October 2016, the company entered into a partnership with Rottnest Air-Taxi in preparation for commercialising electric air taxis in the near future.