Pipistrel Introduces Alpha Electro

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Pipistrel's electric-trainer project, which started out with a prototype called Watts Up, now has evolved into the ready-for-the-market Alpha Electro, the company announced at Aero Friedrichshafen this week. During a pre-show news conference on Tuesday, Pipistrel chief engineer Tine Tomazic said the airplane, which can fly up to an hour with a half-hour reserve, is designed for a single function -- to be flown in the pattern, doing touch-and-goes. The low hourly operating costs of the Electro will make it a compelling choice for flight schools, Tomazic said. The six batteries can be swapped out in five minutes, and a full recharge takes about 45 minutes.

The Electro is virtually identical to the company's Alpha Trainer, which will make it easy for students to spend time in both airplanes, Tomazic said. The airplane also features a custom-built propeller that helps return energy to the battery every time the airplane descends. It's for sale at a price of just under 100,000 euros.

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