While electric aircraft have gained press notice, they’ve lagged in market penetration, partly because buyers don’t fully understand the potential for electric aircraft. “I think it all comes down to people’s expectations. The most straightforward form of an electric airplane is one powered by batteries and batteries will always be a factor on the airplane, which is hindering endurance and performance, “ says Tine Tomažic, a developmental engineer for the Slovenian Pipistrel Aircraft. Pipistrel is a leading developer of light, efficient aircraft and has two electric models in its line. Tomažic presented at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium this week in Redwood City, California, and we spoke with him for this recorded podcast.
Subsidized by local funds from Fresno County, a fleet of four Pipistrel Alpha Electro trainers will be made available for primary training in California’s Central Valley late this year, program organizers hope. Fresno County will be installing chargers for the aircraft at four local airports: Mendota, Reedley, Fresno Chandler and a fourth airport to be determined.
Wright Electric, a San Los Obispo-based startup, aims to make every short commercial flight electric within 20 years by building what co-founder Jeff Engler calls their “electric 737.” Wright’s vision is a 150-seat, short-haul aircraft capable of serving routes under 300 miles. Engler told attendees at the Sustainable Aviation Symposium that Wright was inspired to reject energy density arguments by looking at data on the length of commercial flights around the world.