It’s 2020… did you also think we’d be living in a society of hover cars, living simultaneously with robots a bit like in those sci-fi films we’ve all seen? The truth is that we’re not far from living that reality, albeit being slightly speculative at the moment. After years of technological advancement, it is clear that robotics have excelled expodentially! With today’s subject in mind, electric engineering is booming. Cars, scooters, bicycles… all means of transport are trying to become better for the environment but what about in the world of aviation?
Electric-powered aviation has been on our mind for years
Let’s take a look into the past, it was in the year 1973 that the first electric fuelled flight took place with a passenger onboard. This was completed by Fred Militky and Heino Brditschka who transformed a motor-glider into an electric plane called Militky MB-E1. It was a great first attempt and the flight lasted 14 minutes. After this, everything went full thrust ahead! In 1974 the AstroFlight Sunrise is born and is the first flight to be powered by solar panels. A few years later in 1979, the Mauro Solar Riser who, again thanks to solar energy, after 3 hours of charging had a flight of 10-minutes. In 2015, the Airbus E-Fan crossed the channel and more recently, the Solar Impulse made in 2016 completed a 40,000km world-round trip.
The E-Fan or so we thought!
Airbus had high hopes for the E-Fan. Its first flight took place in 2015 when it crossed the Channel. Aviation fans around the world watched on eagerly: this would be the first electric-powered aircraft created by one of the big dogs. Airbus invested over £18M with the intention of building a fleet but by 2017, Airbus retired the project and the E-Fan found a home at the Museum Aeroscopia (Blagnac, France)… A tough hit to the world of aviation but a wonderful adventure and just a taste of what is to come in the world of electric-powered aviation!
Today, we introduce… The Pipistrel Alpha Electro!
Pipistrel are a slovenian light aircraft manufacturer. The Alpha Electro made her debut in the electric-powered world of aviation at the same time as the Airbus in 2015. The aircraft has a range of 1hr flying and charges in only 45mns.
It was in 2018 that the Alpha Electro became commercialised as it becomes the first certified electric-powered aircraft in the US. Today, 4 Alpha Electro are built per day making this the crown-jewel technology and the first mass-produced electric-powered aircraft.
The Alpha Electro’s characteristics
The Pipistrel Alpha Trainer is a Slovenian two-seat, single-engine light-sport aircraft intended specifically for flight training. Boasting a short take-off distance, a powerful 1000+ fpm and 1hr flying time with 30mns reserve. The Alpha Electro is optimised for airfield circuit operations where 13% of the energy used is regained on approach, enhancing the plane’s endurance and at the same time, allowing for landings on shorter runways.
Have you already flown on an electric-powered aircraft? What do you think of the development in the world of aviation? Let us know in the comment section!