The first widely-useful electric training aircraft, the ALPHA Electro, is getting its home in Switzerland.
The proof of this statement was the presentation which our Swiss distributor, Mr. Marc B. Corpataux with his company Alpin Air Planes GmbH, made in Ecuvillens. He presented the ALPHA Electro on the occasion of the 2nd Smartflyer Challenge in Grenchen. He and his demo pilots presented several times how the ALPHA Electro can serve as an ideal training aircraft. It is equipped with two redundant battery packs which provide an operating margin of one hour of flight time plus the legal reserve (30 min), with a re-charging time of 45 minutes.
The newspaper Grenchen Tagblatt dedicated a large title to one of the most fascinating characteristics of the ALPHA Electro: “This airplane is so quiet!” And the visitors were equally impressed by it.
The aircraft flies with a 60 kW PEM 60 engine, which is now self-produced by Pipistrel. For the take-off it can even provide 70 kW, but at 50 feet, the power can be reduced to 40 kW with the power settings. The plane still scales at 700 feet per minute. The electric hub motor and the propeller are specially designed for energy recovery in flight-pattern descent. When the aircraft glides, the three-bladed propeller takes a windmill function and acts as a generator to recuperate a significant amount of energy back into the battery system.
Mr. Marc B. Corpataux operates Alpin Air Planes GmbH in Ecuvillens as Swiss representative for Pipistrel aircraft
Marc Corpataux is dedicated to his mission of bringing electric flight into Swiss flying schools.
The flight school Ecoflight.ch in Mollis was the first customer, but Mr. Corpataux already talks of another flight school, which will soon order the aircraft. His goal is to sell 10 aircraft to flight schools for the beginning. The greatest initial obstacle was – as usual – the legislation, so before he can pursue his goal, Mr. Corpataux is waiting for the definitive approval of the Alpha Electro by the authorities. The first two aircraft fly with a “permit-to-fly” and with them, far more than 50 flight hours were already provided in Switzerland as proof flights.
The approval program, which is managed by EASA, promises the final EASA LSA approval by spring 2019. After that, it will be possible to provide regular basic flight-training in flight schools with the ALPHA Electro.
One of the greatest advantages for flight training is not only the quietness of the ALPHA Electro, but also the price: Pipistrel already offers a mobile charging station with a power connection, which recharges an aircraft fast and cheap. Every recharging costs no more than the equivalent of two liters of Avgas.