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World endurance record attempt for electric aircraft to depart Adelaide's Parafield Airport tomorrow

18 June 2021    

Adelaide-based Eyre to There Aviation in partnership with platinum sponsor AvPlan EFB will aim to break a world endurance record for an electric aircraft with a 7-day, 18-stop flight around South Australia, starting tomorrow.

The record attempt, flying a Pipistrel Alpha Electro plane, will start at Parafield Airport at 7.00am on Saturday June 19 with the first leg to Balaklava and the first overnight stop in Whyalla. The total distance will be 1,150km, which will shatter the previous record of 750km flown in September 2020 in Germany.

The proposed route will include flying across to the Lower Eyre Peninsula and inland back to Port Augusta for flight sectors around the Yorke Peninsula before arriving back in Adelaide, subject to aircraft performance and weather.

The world record attempt is being led by Eyre to There Aviation Managing Director, Barrie Rogers, who undertook the first ever electric flight in South Australia in 2020.

The flight team and support crew will include three pilots, five on-the-ground support crew, a second support (petrol-powered) plane, and two vehicles carrying recharging equipment for the aircraft.

“The world record we’re seeking to break is basically an endurance record to push the durability and reliability of the aircraft. We’re also hoping to break a couple of other records including fastest point-to-point single flight and fastest climb rate,” Barrie says.

“The Pipistrel Alpha Electro - dubbed the ‘Tesla of flying’ - currently has a flight time range of about 1 hour and cruising speed of 85 knots (157km/h) so we’ve had to very carefully plan each stop and build in contingencies for weather such as strong head winds.”

Barrie says the Pipistrel Alpha Electro is the world’s first and only serially produced electric aircraft currently approved in Australia for flight training by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

“This record attempt will further demonstrate the overall viability of this aircraft, with a view to one day setting up an assembly line in Adelaide producing up to 40 aircraft per year,” he says.

“Electric aircraft are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, are significantly quieter than conventional aircraft and don’t rely on fossil fuels. And they are ideally suited for short range flight training activities.

“The flight will also investigate suitable airfields along the route for the introduction of electric aircraft charging infrastructure into the future. Eyre to There Aviation plans to prepare a report for the State Government outlining the regional potential for upgraded charging infrastructure in support of current and emerging electric aircraft capabilities. This includes a combination of plane and electric vehicle charging where applicable.     

“Electric aircraft don’t yet have the range of other aircraft, but they’re perfect for short flights such as flight training and particularly circuit training, which is a core activity in obtaining a private pilot licence.

“There are more than 250 registered flight schools in Australia using more than 3,400 training aircraft. Roughly 25 per cent of flight training covers the beginner phase which involves circuit training for take-offs and landings as well as training in close proximity to an airfield.  Electric aircraft are perfectly suited for this task.

“The average age of small single engine aeroplanes in Australia is 36.4 years, so many of these are reaching the end of their lifespan.  We see a clear market opportunity to provide brand new, low-cost aircraft that have zero emissions.”

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