May 10, 2012
By Sarah Brown
Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel has made its first entry into the training market with the light sport Alpha Trainer.
The manufacturer of composite gliders and airplanes said the Alpha Trainer has a more robust undercarriage, shorter nose gear leg improving visibility, and shorter wingspan than its other products to accommodate flight-school use. At about $85,000 in the United States (59,000 Euros in Europe), the analog-panel, tricycle-gear Alpha has a lower price than some other common light sport aircraft trainers; the company emphasized affordability—in purchase price and operating costs—in the announcement of its release.
Cruise speed for the 80-horsepower Rotax-powered LSA is 108 knots at 5,200 rpm, or 75-percent power, the company said; at 5,000 rpm it is 100 knots. The Alpha burns 3.6 gph at normal cruise speed, Pipistrel said, with a range of 390 nautical miles excluding reserves. Maximum takeoff weight for the two-seater is 1,212 pounds.
The wings, based on the wing design of the Virus SW, feature flaperons, and have a shorter wingspan than other Pipistrel aircraft to accommodate hangaring. The aircraft is equipped with a ballistic parachute, steerable nosewheel, removable wings, and Garmin aera 500. It is not currently available with a glass cockpit, a feature that would add to the price.
Pipistrel has made a splash in recent years with its more innovative designs. The four-seat, two-fuselage Taurus G4 won the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, an efficiency competition, powered by lithium-polymer batteries weighing more than 1,100 pounds, and earned a nomination for the prestigious Collier Trophy. The first flight-test airplane of the Panthera attracted crowds at the recent Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, with sleek lines and a promise of 200-knot cruise speeds burning just 10 gph. Slovenian pilot Matevž LenarÄ�iÄ� put the fuel efficiency of the Virus motorglider on display with a recent around-the-world flight.
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