On Tuesday, June 29. 2021, the Slovene Minister of Defense Mr. Matej Tonin visited Pipistrel company.
He first met with the management of Pipistrel company and the General manager Mr. Ivo Boscarol, who presented the company and its vision for development to the Minister. After that, Minister Tonin and Mr. Boscarol signed an Agreement on testing the Pipistrel aircraft for suitability of training.
The subject of the agreement is providing Pipistrel’s aircraft to the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) in order for the SAF to test the suitability of these aircraft for the initial training of pilots and for the renewal of the SAF flight training system.
Based on the agreement, Pipistrel will provide the Ministry of Defense (slo.: Ministrstvo za Obrambo Republike Slovenije, MORS) with a Virus SW 121 aircraft, Velis Electro aircraft, Panthera aircraft and a Velis X-Alpha VR simulator for testing. Pipistrel will also grant pilot familiarization for the above-mentioned aircraft models to the SAF’s instructors, and the SAF mechanics will receive training in the field of pre-flight inspections and basic maintenance of the said aircraft. The MORS will carry out advanced testing and demonstrations of the performance and usability of Pipistrel aircraft for the needs of the SAF, and in return enable Pipistrel the use of areas at Cerklje ob Krki and Poček military airports for the factory’s own aircraft testing.
Minister of Defense Matej Tonin expressed his joy that the SAF is moving in the direction of green defense, which will also support the Slovenian industry, adding: “By using such aircraft, the Slovenian Army has given a clear message to its allies within NATO and wider, that these are exceptionally high-quality aircraft which can be used also by other armed forces.”
The Minister mentioned that himself and Mr. Boscarol agreed on a special partnership between MORS and Pipistrel. The purpose of it would be to obtain as much funding as possible from NATO and the European Union for development projects, as MORS knows these processes administratively and Pipistrel is a company with experience to put them in practice.
Director of the Pipistrel Group, Mr. Ivo Boscarol thanked Minister Tonin for his encouraging words and for support which brought a decade-long effort for cooperation to an actual signing. He mentioned that such cooperation would be beneficial for the specific needs of military forces of a smaller country, such as Slovenia, which is sensitive to environmental pollution and noise. He concluded: “In this area, Pipistrel has the upper hand, as we were the first in the world to certify an electric aircraft. The Slovenian Army will be the first to receive such an inaudible electric aircraft for primary schooling as a part of the program which also includes a faster two-seat aircraft, a four-seat aircraft and a flight simulator with virtual reality technology.”
The Technical Director of Pipistrel group, dr. Tine Tomažič, explained why Pipistrel’s training planes are so different and better that they are also used by large armies. He described their principle, being designed for flying with very little power, and illustrated it with an example that they use a quarter less power than a car to fly 200km per hour, so they are suitable for electrification. The opportunity he sees for aircraft such as Velis or the Virus SW 121 platform is the digitalization of air force pilot training. As combat moves towards the virtual realm and aircraft are increasingly equipped with information systems, this means that the pilots they will inevitably encounter the latest technology, so training with this type of technology helps to prepare them to be immediately ready for new challenges.
He emphasized that Pipistrel aircraft will be able to do this in an environmentally friendly way, as even the petrol versions of their aircraft use less than half as much fuel as those currently used by the SAF, and they reduce noise by as much as a factor of 5. This means that an aircraft flying more than 200m high is completely inaudible to observers on the ground.
He also mentioned the safety aspect and said that the electric aircraft are already certified to higher safety standards than any petrol or turbojet aircraft today. All of them also have rescue systems with built-in parachutes, which is a great advantage, especially when flying over difficult terrains, such as Slovenia. This parachute life-saving technology has already proven itself to be 100% effective, which is very important for new pilots.
Minister Tonin concluded his visit to Pipistrel with a tour of the production of Pipistrel aircraft and a presentation of the aircraft.