Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel announced on July 25 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that it is offering a new charging station called Skycharge for charging eco-friendly aircraft batteries in its electric aircraft models.
The Skycharge charging station can be set to fast, slow, or maintenance mode. In fast charge mode, batteries can be powered in 15 to 20 minutes. The charging station can charge up to four aircraft simultaneously.
“We hear about electric aircraft every day, but we’re the only company selling true production aircraft that are certified,” said Pipistrel U.S. distributor Michael Coates.
The Alpha Electro is certified in Australia as a light sport aircraft,and certification is pending in the United States, Coates said. Currently eight Alpha Electros are flying in the United States in the experimental category, he said. The FAA’s definition of light sport aircraft refers to aircraft with a single reciprocating engine. “They didn’t believe they’d be excluding electric,” he said, because the technology was not expected to arrive on the scene for many years.
The FAA has accepted ASTM standards for electric aircraft, Coates said, and he expects a change in the definition for LSA models within the next six months.
“It’s not worrying our customers,” he said.
Pipistrel says the Alpha Electro can fly for about one hour on a fully charged battery. It uses about $3 per hour worth of electricity, and costs less than $25 per hour to operate.
Coates said the company is moving away from the concept of quick-replace batteries, noting that their weight—115 pounds—is a detriment. “Replaceable batteries may not be the way to go,” he said.
The Alpha Electro trainer sells for $138,000.