Newsletter 79 – Airventure 2015

The countdown has started !

7 Days to go… Airventure 2015

The countdown has started and there are now only seven days to go until the opening of the greatest aviation show in the world.

Airventure 2015 is located in Oshkosh Wisconsin and is touted as the biggest and the best aviation get together anywhere in the world and I have to agree. Pipistrel has been exhibiting at Oshkosh for the last 15 years and this year will be no different. Our complete dealer network in attendance and we will be able to spend the time to show you the differences between our aircraft models which make owning a Pipistrel aircraft different than perhaps any other LSA or glider aircraft.

Coming this year from Pipistrel head office is the head of maintenance and engineering, Leon Brecelj. Leon has worked for Pipistrel for a long, long time and can answer any of our customer’s questions about maintenance, ongoing airworthiness, in fact anything you want to know specifically about Pipistrel aircraft manufacturing or operations. If it’s ever happened before at Pipistrel then Leon has been involved. It’s also a great time for our current kit builders to drop by and ask any questions. Leon will be in attendance for the complete Airventure event.

As mentioned above all of our USA dealers will be at the show and we will have several different aircraft available on static display as well as a couple of aircraft flying from the ultralight/LSA runway at the south of the airfield. Our dealer team is really looking forward to meeting with everybody. Speaking of dealers, we still have areas within the USA which are not represented. If you feel the desire to sell aircraft and would like to join a dynamic team representing Pipistrel in the USA then please do drop by for more information.

Now, it can’t be in Oshkosh without an Oshkosh Special and this year is no different…..

This year all aircraft orders, deposit paid at Oshkosh or up until 10 August (this allows you to get permission to buy a new aircraft when you get home) we will offer free shipping from the factory in Europe to the USA. This is a saving of around $5000! Couple this with the extremely good Euro to US dollar exchange rate at the moment and this year is a great time to be buying a Pipistrel aircraft. When preparing the price sheets for this year I used last year’s price sheets as a template and I was surprised to be reminded that the exchange rate movement alone now makes a Pipistrel aircraft approximately 25% cheaper than the same time last year. If you never thought you could afford a Pipistrel aircraft please make sure you check back again, with the free shipping offer as well as a much better exchange rate owning a Pipistrel can now be more affordable than ever.

Oshkosh 2015

Pipistrel USA – Located at Sites 374 and 375 in the Main Aircraft Display area

What is all the kerfuffle about electric aircraft and the English channel crossing ?

Well, the last week has been absolute turmoil when it comes to who can be the first ELECTRIC aircraft to fly across the English Channel. Although the distance is not that far the prestige of being the first electric aircraft to fly across the English Channel became a challenge that interested a lot of aviation manufacturers.

Pipistrel first decided a couple of years ago that flying the English Channel in an electric aircraft would be a great achievement. Last October Pipistrel started plans and preparations for this event. Airbus also at the same time decided it would like to fly the English Channel with its new E-Fan project and claim their place in the history books. The last few weeks have been almost comical in the way that some of the largest companies in the world have acted.

Pipistrel with the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro aircraft had partnered with Siemens for some time using their electric engine in a Pipistrel airframe with Pipistrel hardware. At the same time Siemens had also partnered with the Airbus project; personally I have no idea what their involvement was but it was certainly strong enough based on the current information I have available for Airbus to encourage Siemens to not allow Pipistrel to use the Siemens Electric engine when plans went public about Pipistrel flying the English Channel.

Basically, as I understand it, Pipistrel had been working with both the French and the English authorities through its local French dealer to register the aircraft in France, fly across the English Channel, land and then return back to France on a single battery charge. Part of the process of gaining approval was to fly test flights in France over land to prove the aircraft performance to the authorities. All of this was completed a couple of weeks ago and plans were made public about 2 weeks ago that Pipistrel would cross the channel the following Tuesday effectively beating the Airbus attempt which was not scheduled until Friday, three days later in the same week.

When word came out that this channel crossing attempt was to happen there was a lot of pressure behind-the-scenes and we can only summarize that it was between Airbus and Siemens.

Siemens had to decide who they wanted to keep on side as their preferred customer. Would Siemens keep Airbus on side or would Siemens keep Pipistrel on side ?

The answer was Siemens decided that Airbus was probably going to be a stronger cooperating partner not only with electric aircraft but everything else they are doing as well and on the Sunday, two days before our attempt they issued an immediate seizure request for the engine and declared that legal action as strong as they could possibly muster would be taken against Pipistrel if they flew the cross-channel attempt.

Really, I don’t think it mattered who was the first across the channel whether it was going to be Airbus or Pipistrel, we could have even negotiated some sort of agreement to do the crossing on the same day perhaps following each other and gain further worldwide publicity for electric aircraft and near zero emission operations. Unfortunately, only one person can play in the Airbus sandpit and when they flexed their muscle, Siemens cowered and our engine was seized.

Now, comes the funny part…. There is a very small aircraft out there which is a single seater called the Cri Cri, one of these owned by Frenchman Hughes Duval is electric powered and he already has a full French permit to fly and a scattering of world records for this are very unique aircraft which is the smallest twin engine aircraft in the world. Hughes decided to jump in-between Pipistrel and Airbus and take to the skies completing the crossing and return one day before the airbus attempt placing himself and his aircraft in the history books. Well done Hughes! Read more about this here…

In closing, congratulations to Huges and also Airbus for their successful attempts at crossing the English Channel last week. Finally, if you get along to Oshkosh, please be sure to drop by, share some of our shade and say hello.

Take care, Michael Coates.