Pipistrel, based in Slovenia, was acquired in March of this year by Textron, which has the capital to accelerate the development of new products and increase the company’s workforce. Pipistrel will remain a separate brand under the Textron umbrella and will continue to hire locally in Slovenia.
Pipistrel manufacturers a range of smaller aircraft, including ultralights and gliders to the electric-powered Velis Electro and four-seat Panthera, which is being modified into a hybrid-electric aircraft. A flying prototype of the hybrid Panthera is on display at EBACE.
Textron plans to continue to invest in the Pipistrel Velis Electro, the world’s only fully certified electric aircraft. As battery technology continues to evolve, the company expects to improve the range that will make the aircraft a true multi-mission trainer that is environmentally friendly from both emissions and the often-forgotten noise aspects. Today, the Velis has a 50-minute battery life, which Textron would like to expand to three hours as technology evolves.
Textron plans to move that architecture to the Panthera to provide a new platform for a high-performance, single-engine aircraft.
The current Panthera is not yet certified but is a four-seat high-performance aircraft. With a Lycoming 540 engine that can run on automotive fuel and retractable gear, it has a speed of 200 knots and a range of 800 nautical miles. With Textron’s support, Pipistrel now has the resources to fully certify that product. Their plan is to certify the conventionally powered model, and once the airframe is certified, migrate over the propulsion system.
The Nuuva V300 is an unmanned eVTOL with a 300 kg payload and a 300 nm range that can take off vertically under electric power and a traditional internal combustion pusher engine. The electric package uses the same batteries and motor as the Velis with proven systems, providing a regulatory leg up for certification. Beginning the eVTOL market with an unmanned cargo aircraft, Pipistrel will test both the economic viability and infrastructural constraints that surround urban air mobility.
Since the last EBASE in 2019, Textron has introduced three new models, the Citation CJ4 Gen 2, the Citation XLS Gen 2, and the Beech King Air 360, all of which are the latest versions of successful programs that were introduced in 2020 and 2021 and on display at the event.