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.