Interest in building electrically powered aircraft is strong, but as yet the reality is no electric motor package is ready to plug and play except Slovenian airframer Pipistrel’s. Even then, integrating the Pipistrel package into an airframe is up to the builder unless you’re repowering a Rotax 503-powered Taurus, which is what the Pipistrel package is built around.
Past Pipistrel, adventurous amateur builders are pretty much on their own to source a motor, batteries and controller and integrate it into an airframe. One big help in such a quest is to repurpose the electric innards of a Zero Motorcycle, which we address in the nearby “Circling The Airport” sidebar.
Pipistrel offers a standard 40 kW motor with a 60 kW option. A full suite of supporting equipment such as batteries, battery charger, controller, propellers, instruments, control levers and the like are offered à la carte to produce a custom electric propulsion package. Pipistrel also has the trapeze and controls for a retractable arm should you be designing a motorglider.
Converting a Zero Motorcycle to aviation duty involves considerable cost—an entire motorcycle is sacrificed in the process—and serious amounts of self-guided fabrication compared to modern kit aircraft practice. But it’s the craftsman’s path to basic electric flight.
|20 Ah 4.75 kWh Electric Propulsion System||direct||40 kW takeoff, 30 kW climb||130 lb w/ batteries, motor and controls||$16,100 est.*|
|20 Ah 4.75 kWh Electric Propulsion System||direct||60 kW takeoff, 50 kW continuous, upgraded||130 lb w/ batteries, motor and controls||$19,000 est.*|