Green plane deal for SA
An Adelaide company is planning to be Australia’s first manufacturer of electric aircraft, having signed an agreement with a European designer.
Eyre to There Aviation managing director Barrie Rogers says his company’s fully electric aeroplane, designed by Pipistrel in Slovenia, will soon take off in the flight training market.
The company is importing 15 assembled aircraft, but has plans to establish an assembly line in Adelaide that can manufacture up to 100 aircraft a year. It would be the first electric aircraft manufacturer to be based in Australia.
The first of the planes has already landed from its maiden South Australian flight.
Mr Rogers says Australia is ahead in the regulation game when it comes to flying electric aircraft, which he believes are ideal for Australia’s 250 registered flight schools.
“Australia is currently the only country in the world that already certifies electric aircraft for training purposes, so we have an opportunity to be a world leader,” he said.
“Electric aircraft are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, are significantly quieter than conventional aircraft and don’t rely on fossil fuels. And they are ideally suited for short range flight training activities.”
The very notion of an electric aircraft has been hampered by the heavy weight of the battery needed in each plane.
However, technological advancements are now reducing their size “to a point where electric aircraft are now commercially viable in Australia”.
“Electric aircraft don’t yet have the range of other aircraft but they’re perfect for short flights such as flight training and particularly circuit training, which is a core activity in obtaining a private pilot licence,” he said.
The Pipistrel Alpha Electro can fly for an hour, with a 30-minute reserve. About 25 per cent of flight training is dedicated to the beginner phase, involving short circuit training for take-offs and landings, with all training occurring close to airfields.
The 6.5m long aircraft can climb 1,220 feet per minute and has a cruising speed of 157km/h.