Pipistrel Flies WATTsUP Electric Trainer

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Slovenian planemaker Pipistrel says its new electric-powered training aircraft will slash training costs while pleasing the neighbors of the small airports it's designed for. The WATTsUP two-seat trainer flew for the first time on Aug. 22 and will be unveiled publicly at the Salon de Blois airshow in France Aug. 30-31. "Technologies developed specially for this aircraft cut the cost of ab-initio pilot training by as much as 70 percent, making flying more affordable than ever before," said Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol. "Being able to conduct training on smaller airfields closer to towns with zero C02 emissions and minimum noise is also a game changer!" The aircraft appears to share the airframe of Pipistrel's Sinus and Virus lines but that's where the similarity ends.

Pipistrel says the propulsion system was designed in partnership with Siemens AG and the motor has more power (85 kW) than a Rotax 912. It climbs at better than 1,000 fpm and has an hour of endurance with a 30-minute reserve. On approach, it can recover up to 13 percent of the energy expended to that point from the windmilling prop, extending endurance even further in typical pattern training operations. A spent battery can be quickly swapped and will charge in an hour so continuous operation is possible with two batteries. Pipistrel says the aircraft is already certified in France and it will meet U.S. LSA standards. The company expects to start selling the planes in 2015 for less than 100,000 euros.