Newsletter 65 – March 2012

Whilst most aviation companies are streamlining or cutting back construction works have just begun at the new Italian Pipistrel factory at Gorizia Airport approximately 15 miles from the Pipistrel Headquarters in Slovenia. This important event was held last Friday with a ceremony and laying of the foundation stone. Please read on….

Start of ground works and sanitizing of the area

Pipistrel is proud to announce that on Friday, 24. February 2012 the first ground works for the new Italian Pipistrel facility have begun on schedule at airport Gorizia, Italy just 15 miles away from the Pipistrel Headquarters in Slovenia. The new facility will be built at the Duca d’Aosta airport next to Gorizia on a location which has previously been used by Pipistrel.

The area where the factory will be located was heavily bombed during the WW1, so it is subject to a law which requires compulsory sanitizing before the beginning of any construction. A local certified company will accomplish this by removing all the vegetation and the entire top layer of soil in the coming months. When the sanitizing process is finished, the construction will begin.

Earthworks have started by removing the topsoil which could also include unexploded bombs from WW1

Pipistrel d.o.o. Ajdovscina has founded a subsidiary company Pipistrel LSA S.p.A in Italy in 2010 as the majority shareholder (81%), for production of the 4-seat aircraft Panthera and production of the LSA series aircraft.The Panthera is a modern 4-seat business aircraft offering the customers three options of propulsion: classic petrol engine, hybrid propulsion and a fully electric power-train. Panthera is so revolutionary that several months before the first public unveiling, the company has already received a few dozen confirmed orders with advance payments.

Panthera Brochure

Pipistrel Italy’s Proposed Facility

Apart from thirty Pipistrel R&D engineers there are several other partners involved in the development of the Panthera. The aircraft and all its systems are entirety a product of Slovenian know-how.

When asked, why he decided to build the new factory in Italy, the Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol said:

There are several reasons why we decided to build in Italy.

One of them is the so-called bilateral agreement about aviation safety with the USA, which Slovenia doesn’t have and Italy does, this is why the LSA aircraft are currently produced at this airfield.

The second reason is the weather, in Ajdovscina we can’t fly for over 100 days per year due to the very strong gusty local wind, called Burja, which can reach speeds up to 200km/h (120 mph). If we want to produce 300 aircraft per year, we have to be able to test them in the air. The new location is only 17 km (15 miles) away from the current Pipistrel headquarters, but the weather is completely different.

The third reason is the availability of space for construction. At the airport in Ajdovscina, we’re slowly running out of space. At the Gorizia airport, there is still plenty of it available. This leaves us greater freedom for possible future expansions.

The fourth reason – the administrative one – is that the Slovenian Ministry of Defence did not allow us to purchase the terrain adjacent to our existing HQ building in Ajdovscina.

The Italian ENAC (civil aviation authority), however, issued the permission in 5 months while the other authorities – the airport terrain lies between two municipalities, Gorizia and Savogna d’Isonzo – immediately started to work together to ease the process. The two mayors really committed themselves to this project, they helped us to obtain all permits and agreements, they appealed for the support of the regional government, contacted banks, they even changed the spatial plan and the road infrastructure, they arranged everything – they really go out of their way to help us!

The construction was enabled by the Italian Directorate of Aviation (ENAC) which offered Pipistrel a plot of ground (30.000 m2) at Gorizia Airport for long-term management, and the municipality Sovodnje – Savogna d’Isonzo, which enabled and facilitated the beginning of construction on its territory by issuing all the necessary permits and deeds in a very short time.

The president of the region Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Renzo Tondo, placed the foundation stone

The value of the building together with the modern administration and management extension, exterior and all the equipment amounts to 5 million Euro (8 million USD). As the building grounds were granted by the relevant authorities, the total cost of the investment turned out to be so much lower that Pipistrel could place a 1.1 MW solar power plant worth 2 million Euro on the roof of the complex. The combined worth of the investment is 7 million Euro, or € 8,47 M together with VAT.

The complex will be built over the next two years. We expect the first Panthera aircraft to be produced there in 2015.

Simultaneously a very demanding and expensive process of certifying the aircraft Panthera is in progress, to be concluded by the beginning of 2015.

The complex will have 10.000 m2 of footprint and in excess of 12.000 m2 of useful covered surfaces. It will have super-standard insulation and, same as the Pipistrel Headquarters complex in Ajdovscina, it will be energetically self-sufficient using renewable sources of energy.

When the serial production operates will full speed, the factory will produce one aircraft per day. It will provide the opportunity for 200 highly-valued job positions.

It’s always great to be reporting on such exciting news!

Safe flying, Michael Coates