Is Pipistrel Building The GA Trainer Of The Future?
OK... we're excited... and while its not the kind of bird that normally gets us all in an uproar... it is a NEW design, a COST-EFFECTIVE one no less, that is getting ready to hit the local airpark for $85K!
Yeah... that got our attention.
Based on the well-tested and highly-regarded Pipistrel Virus (great plane... weird name), the new Alpha Trainer has set the bar pretty high. Pipistrel's ALPHA Trainer has been fitted with the very basic and very reliable Rotax 912 80HP engine. The ALPHA Trainer is a pre-molded, composite built, two seat, single engine, high wing, tricycle design, high performance and very economical Light Sport Aircraft (LSA). The aircraft is available in a fixed configuration of instrumentation and is targeted directly to flight schools and the training market but can also be used by recreational flyers looking for a fully featured aircraft at very reasonable pricing.
The main differences from the "normal" Pipistrel aircraft and the new Pipistrel ALPHA Trainer aircraft is that the aircraft has been designed from the ground up for flying school operations. The aircraft has a reduced wingspan to make hangarage easier; there is a new more robust undercarriage and shorter nose leg offering improved visibility from the front of the aircraft.
Cruise speed at 75% power is a respectable 108 knots at 5200 rpm, but 5000 rpm results in 100 kts. The slow flying behavior is very typical of Pipistrel aircraft and the ALPHA Trainer reportedly remains stable and controllable right up to the 34 knot stall speed. The Pipistrel ALPHA Trainer conforms to all rules and regulations for the LSA category and can be flown at a max takeoff weight of 1212 lbs.
The ALPHA has a 15 gallon fuel tank offering 4.1 hours of cruising with a 30 min reserve; typically the aircraft will burn 3.6 gallons per hour at normal cruise speed and has a range of 390 nautical miles.
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