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Pipistrel WATTsUP Two-Place Electric Trainer Makes First Flight

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    Pipistrel’s WATTsUP two-place electric trainer will debut in France this weekend
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    Siemens AG’s 85 kW electric motor powers the WATTsUP

August 27, 2014 - Pipistrel announced the first flight of its fifth electric aircraft—the proof-of-concept two-place electric trainer WATTsUP—on August 22. The company plans to debut the air-plane to the public at the Salon de Blois air show in France, August 30-31.

WATTsUP teamed with Siemens AG, provider of the electric main propulsion components. According to a company press release, every single element of aircraft was made lighter, more efficient, and more reliable. The 85 kW electric motor weighs just a shade less than 31 pounds, yet packs more power than Rotax 912 series engines.

Power comes from a dual-redundant 17 kilowatt hour battery pack designed to be either quickly replaceable within minutes or charged in less than an hour through the next generation of Pipistrel’s Battery Management technology.

Performance allows for short take-off distance, 1,000-plus fpm climb, and one hour of flight endurance with 30 minute reserve. Thirteen percent of energy is recaptured on every approach, according to Pipistrel, increasing endurance and at the same time enabling short-field landings.

“Our solution is the first practical all-electric trainer,” said Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel CEO. “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.”

Boscarol called WATTsUP’s ability to train on smaller airfields closer to towns with zero C02 emissions and with far less noise “a game changer.”

WATTsUP meets European microlight and U.S. ASTM LSA criteria, as well as standards for electric propulsion and is already certified in France, he added. Pipistrel is applying for an exemption with the FAA to allow training operations as an S-LSA.

According to Frank Anton, Siemens executive vice president and a driving force behind the company’s electric aircraft development, Siemens is developing electric drive systems with the highest power-to-weight ratio for aircraft propulsion. “Only with innovation we can solve the problems of rising fuel costs, rising passenger demand, and rising environmental regulations,” he said. “Innovations used in the WATTsUP will be instrumental in making aviation more sustainable in the long run. As electric drives are scalable, we can expect that in the future also larger aircraft will use electric propulsion. The world is becoming electric, whether in the air, on land or at sea.”

Pipistrel says it’s aiming for a target price below 100,000 Euros (about $132,000). Learn more at www.pipistrel.si.

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