Australia to enter electric aircraft market

Eyre to There Aviation intends to be Australia’s first manufacturer
of electric aircraft, having signed a deal to build Pipistrel’s Alpha
Electro aircrafts in Adelaide.

Managing director, Barrie Rogers,
said the electric aeroplane designed by Slovenian light aircraft
manufacturer Pipistrel was marketed towards the flight training market.
The company will initially import 15 assembled aircraft and establish an
assembly line in Adelaide to manufacture up to 100 aircraft a year.

The first of the planes is already in Adelaide with its maiden South Australian flight taking place this month.

The
two-seat plane will be tailored for use in flight schools, with a short
take-off distance and a 1,000-feet-per-minute climb capability.

One
of the key drivers was Australia being ahead of the regulation game in
terms of flying the electric aircraft, Rogers said, claiming the planes
were ideal for the more than 250 registered flight schools in Australia.

“Australia
is currently the only country in the world that already certifies
electric aircraft for training purposes, so we have an opportunity to be
a world leader,” Rogers said

“Electric aircraft are cheaper to
buy, cheaper to run, are significantly quieter than conventional
aircraft and don’t rely on fossil fuels. And they are ideally suited for
short range flight training activities.

“We’re using battery
technology rather than fuel technology, less maintenance and from a
training point of view, obviously, a lot less operating cost,” he said.

Until
now, the electric aircraft industry had been hampered by the heavy
weight of the battery needed in each plane but Rogers said technological
advancements had reduced its size “to a point where electric aircraft
are now commercially viable in Australia”.

“Electric aircraft
don’t yet have the range of other aircraft but they’re perfect for short
flights such as flight training and particularly circuit training,
which is a core activity in obtaining a private pilot licence,” he said.

Rogers
said the time was right to introduce the new technology as the average
age of a small single engine aeroplane in Australia was 36.4 years with
many nearing the end of their life span.

“We see a clear market opportunity to provide brand new, low-cost aircraft that have zero emissions,” Rogers said.

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