Slovenian light aircraft developer Pipistrel Aircraft has joined forces with Siemens to produce an all-electric design.
The two-seat model, called WATTsUP, is targeted at the training market and is earmarked for service entry next year.
“With the ever-growing cost of fuel it is time to rethink pilot training,” says Pipistrel chief executive Ivo Boscarol. “Technologies developed for this aircraft cut the cost of ab-initio pilot training by as much as 70%. Being able to conduct training on smaller airfields closer to towns with zero CO2 emissions and minimum noise is also a game-changer,” he adds. The Siemens engine weighs just 14kg (30lb) and produces 85kW (113hp); more than the Rotax 912 engine found in typical light-sport aircraft, says Pipistrel.
The company adds that it is using a dual-redundant battery pack that can be charged in less than an hour, or replaced within minutes, minimising downtime for the aircraft.
WATTsUP meets the American Society for Testing and Materials LSA criteria and Pipistrel says it is applying for Federal Aviation Administration exemption to allow the aircraft to be used as a special light sport aircraft in training operations. Pipistrel is hoping to bring the final product to market by 2015 with a sale price of under €100,000 ($132,000).
Meanwhile, the manufacturer is hoping to secure certification for its Panthera four-seat piston single in 2017 and is now assembling the second prototype at its Ajdovščina base.
The second test aircraft will be equipped with a six-cylinder Lycoming IO-540 powerplant when it takes to the skies at the end of the year.
The engine replaces the IO-390 that has powered the first prototype. This early model has notched up over 250 flying hours since making its first flight in April 2013.
Pipistrel is also planning a hybrid and electric version of the Panthera, which are scheduled to fly for the first time in 2015. ■
Source: Flight International