Pipistrel seems unstoppable lately. First, it struck a strategic partnership in China, and now, it has delivered its first electric plane (e-plane) in Canada.
Canada is close to approving the first Pipistrel e-plane, Alpha Electro, for legal flights in the country. After the final phase of approval in the advanced ultra-light category, the e-plane will be able to roam the Canadian skies. This was made easier due to Canada having already allowed the Alpha Trainer to operate as an ultra-light category aircraft.
Sadly, in the US, the FAA hasn’t allowed the Alpha Electro to fly as a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) for commercial operations, yet. The FAA defines LSA as having reciprocating engines. However, an owner or operator could be granted an exception, but that is done on a case-by-case basis.
Pipistrel just delivered the first completely electric two-seat Alpha Electro to a Canadian pilot. The good news is that if you live near Vancouver, you might be able to catch a glimpse of it at the Pitt Meadows airport. If you do live there and have a gander, we’d love pictures and some comments.
What An Electric Pipistrel Alpha Electro Can Do
Technically speaking, the Alpha Electro is a light e-plane that uses a modest 60 kW (80 HP) electric motor from Siemens AG. Its 34-foot wingspan and 21-foot length are similar to a Cessna 150, but it weighs more at 1,212 lb (max weight). Cruising at 85 knots (shy of 100 mph), it can climb 1,220 fpm holding 65 knots (shy of 75 mph). The Alpha Electro can fly for an hour and takes about 45 minutes to recharge the Alpha Electro.
The original source of this info is here, and a hat tip to Flying Magazine for spotting this amazing video on how to assemble your electric Pipistrel in less than 15 minutes!
E-Planes To Take Over The Light Aircraft Industry?
Canada inking the Pipistrel Alpha Electro certification as a commercial plane is great news. We can’t wait for Michael Coates, one of Pipistrel’s official distributors in the US, and friends to pressure the FAA to adopt a modern version of aircraft definition — since the electric drivetrain doesn’t require any reciprocating engine.
If you feel electric light airplanes should fly freely in this country, contact the NBAA’s toll-free hotline to Congress and let them know 833-428-6423. Other countries have already recognized them, as we mentioned above, including the UK.
As much as we would like to say light electric planes are taking over the industry, we’ll have to wait a little longer to see it happening. One thing is for sure — e-planes make a lot of sense when it comes to light aircraft. They are perfect for first-time buyers and learners. They fly at a relatively safe speed and don’t need the expansive maintenance cycle their gasoline counterparts force on the pilots and owners. The Pipistrel Alpha Electro is a great way to start flying on electricity.