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Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Tue, 02 Jan 2018, 21:01
by jonescg
Electro Aero just took ownership of their brand new Pipistrel electric aeroplane!

Video of it spooling up here:

4 x 5 kWh batteries (350 volts nominal, 96S, air cooled battery)
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1 hour flight time, with about half an hour in reserve. It takes an hour to recharge on 32 A three-phase (we're onto that ;) )
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Drogue 'chute in case it all goes bad.
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The WA branch will arrange a visit to the Jandakot hangar one day soon, and possibly some joyflights!
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Beautiful little aeroplane!

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Wed, 03 Jan 2018, 08:40
by mikedufty
Nice, probably very practical for bog laps of Jandakot which seems to be what most light aircraft do. Is it any quieter than ICE aircraft? The prop noise must be the same.

I assume it is actually a rescue parachute (recover the whole aircraft) not a drogue chute (usually for slowing down on the runway).

Is that the same plug you are buying Chris?

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Wed, 03 Jan 2018, 08:48
by mikedufty
17:1 glide ratio too, so when the battery runs low you can probably keep going on solar power during the day (thermals).

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Wed, 03 Jan 2018, 10:20
by jonescg
Yeah, they plan on using this craft for flight training and eventually the 4-seater for trips to Rotto. Prop noise was really quite modest. Nobody had a need to cover their ears.
The parachute is for the whole aircraft, but at 350 kg I suspect you'd still need to do a fair bit of flapping and steering to land it safely.

And yes, that's exactly the same connector I plan on buying for the next bike(s). Looks like they used 35 mm2 cable there, which is fair enough considering there's four of those in parallel.

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Mon, 08 Jan 2018, 12:44
by Richo
I saw the news report on this - very nice!
The aim was to do the Rotnest Island runs.
The other aim was to help reduce running costs for pilot training.

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Mon, 08 Jan 2018, 21:52
by neilg
My son has booked to FLY the plane early next Saturday so I hope to be able to give you a second hand account of the plane, it's handling and his general impression of it.

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Mon, 15 Jan 2018, 12:47
by neilg
A report by my son on the first flight.
The following is some extracts of his report (photos and the report to be attached later).
This report makes interesting reading as it shows the differences between Electric vs ICE propulsion such as running and maintenance costs, pre flight preparation and general operation.

The videos show the initial taxi away from the hangar, a touch and go and the final landing (please excuse the wind noise).

I arrived just in time on Saturday morning, bringing the girlfriend and parents (and dog) with me. I was introduced to Richard (Electro.Aero Finance Director) and my instructor Rob.
Rob gave us a walk-around “pre-flight” of the aircraft to check the condition of the aircraft and explain its systems. This is the first area where the differences and advantages of electric aircraft truly struck me.
The Pipestrel was plugged in to a Supercharger when we arrived. It charges up the two 10kWH 70kg battery modules (one in the front of the aircraft and one in the back) in under an hour, using a standard electric vehicle charging plug. The pre-flight requires opening up a panel and looking at an LCD gauge on the battery pack to see its state of charge and overall condition. No fuel dipping, no messing around with hazardous hydrocarbons to refill it, and no topping up of engine oil.
The rest of the aircraft seemed typical of a modern Light Sport aircraft - carbon fiber construction, a high 30’ wing, a tricycle landing gear with steerable nosewheel, adjustable rudder pedals – and a reassuring addition of a Ballistic Recovery System (a giant parachute for the entire aircraft!).
Starting a piston engine is now laughably retro. In the 21st century, most light aircraft still require the pilot to manually set the mixture to rich, prime the engine with fuel, crack the throttle, activate the magnetos and then engage a starter motor. Carburetor engines require management of “carburetor heat” to remove any frozen water that can be created from its venturi effect. None of this is required in Pipestrel – you flick 2 switches with the “throttle” at idle and the prop starts turning.
I make the radio calls required to get us going at Jandakot and start moving off, setting the throttle to around “6kW” and reducing it as required. Rob even demonstrated that completely closing the throttle can make the engine and propeller stop – something that usually raises concern in piston powered aircraft!
We glance at the battery charge gauge, set flaps for take off, make our radio call, and line up on the runway. I move the throttle full forward to “60KW” and the aircraft leaps forward, keeping it straight on the runway with slight rudder pedal movements. At what seemed like 40 knots indicated airspeed, the aircraft starts lifting off the runway of its own accord and we climb up at what feels like quite a steep angle considering where I’ve pointed the nose!
At straight and level, we reduce power to “20kW” – some third of the engines maximum power output. The 20kW setting seemed to give cruise speeds around 80 knots, and is what is required to extract the maximum 1-hour endurance without touching the additional 30 minute reserve quoted by the manufacture. Any prolonged power settings above this can significantly reduce the time and range – with a caveat.
The engine and propeller in this aircraft has been engineered to provide a power re-generation system. When the aircraft is descending at low throttle positions, the force of the air hitting the propeller causes a windmill effect which the motor can use to re-generate power – topping up the battery pack.
This regeneration capability makes this aircraft perfect for circuit training. The burst of power used to climb up to height and fly a circuit is partially regenerated as the pilot descends back down to land on the runway. Rob reckons that for every 5 ‘touch and go’s’, enough energy is re-generated to power another complete circuit.
We turned around just before Scarborough and headed back in. Coming back in from the Powerhouse and Adventure world, I ask to do a circuit – and Rob is happy to oblige. I set up a straight in approach to Runway 12 and call a 3 mile final. When the throttle is closed for descent, the prop slows, the tone changes slightly, and I look at the power meter – sure enough it is reading “-3kW”!
Shutting the aircraft down is another simple affair – close the throttle and flick 4 switches to the off position. To ‘refuel’, we simply plug it back into the charger which will give it a full battery charge in around 45 minutes – just in time for the next paying customer.
The Pipestrel needs some $3 to $6 per flight hour in electricity when sourced from the WA grid, depending on times and tariff rates.
Richard tells me they’ll likely have a 2-seat machine with 2-hour endurance and 120kt cruise speed in the next few years.


A touch and go

Admins: Can I have attachment permissions so I can add some photos and Adams full report (a .docx file).

Just how light the plane is.jpg
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Charging after the flight.jpg
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Flight Report - Electro Aircraft PDF.pdf
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[Edit: Added full report and photos]


Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Wed, 15 Aug 2018, 07:39
by praxidice
I wonder what these things cost to purchase and maintain ?

Presumably both are well under that of comparable ICE aircraft as the electric motor should have an indefinite life and as with an EV, maintenance will be minimal.

The proposed 2 hour version will indeed be an interesting prospect.

Re: Pipistrel electric aeroplane - in Perth!

Posted: Wed, 15 Aug 2018, 08:51
by mikedufty
Would be interesting to see what the maintenance schedule is for one. They have had a lot of practice working it out for ICE where they have pretty rigid inspection and replacement schedules. I wonder if they have something similar. The keep using it until it breaks approach is generally frowned upon with aircraft. Is there anyway to estimate in advance when a capacitor is going to pop in the MCU? or any practical way to inspect?