Pipistrel is a Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer founded in 1989. Pipistrel originally began manufacturing powered hang gliders which were discontinued in the early 2000s. In 2007, Pipistrel introduced the world's first 100% electric powered two seat glider; the first of their gliders to achieve production. In 2015, Pipistrel developed the Alapha Electro, an all-electric plane or electric Conventional Take-Off and Landing (eCTOL) aircraft for training with a one hour flight duration with an energy reserve.
According to one article, electricity for their aircraft costs are about ⅒ of gasoline. Pipistrel has been making batteries in-house to ensure the quality of batteries are up to their strict standards. The batteries charge fairly quickly and they can be changed-out in five minutes or less.
Pipistrel publicly announced its 801 eVTOL at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, D.C., USA, in June 2019, made specifically for Uber Air and that it meets Uber's requirements for aircraft manufacturers, to produce all electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Update: As of Nov. 26, 2019, as reported in eVTOL Magazine, Pipistrel is not going to be working on their UAM eVTOL but instead focusing on a hybrid-electric Cargo Drone. "Pipistrel is not “neglecting” its eVTOL air taxi, just shifting focus to take advantage of near-term business opportunities. The company expects to be able to apply insights from its cargo drone program to further development of the 801."
The model number of the aircraft "801" has a meaning. It has eight ducted lift fans for VTOL flight, no tilting fans/propellers and one tail mounted propeller. The 801 aircraft model is a high-speed all-electric plane with VTOL capability and it can take off and land conventionally on a runway, if necessary. It has a cantilevered high-wing, with retractable tricycle landing gear and larger windows than a jet for a better passenger experience.
Safety and redundancy has been built from the start. The aircraft can successfully land even if two of the electric ducted eVTOL fans are not working. The electronics will have the capability to detect and avoid other aircraft. The plane can also land safely if the batteries experience technical problems. The airframe, including the aircraft's seats, is designed to be energy absorbing in the event of a hard landing. It will have fly-by-wire controls and its electronics make piloting the aircraft easier than other conventional aircraft. In the future, the 801 will be a fully autonomous aircraft.
The 801 has been designed as a low noise aircraft allowing it to fly in urban areas without disturbing residents. Each of the ducted fans have a different frequency which lowers the noise the aircraft produces during VTOL flight. Electric motors also have a lower noise output than gasoline engines.
The first Uber Elevate Summit 2017 in April (Dallas, Texas, USA), Uber signed a partnership with Pipistrel to provide eVTOLs for Uber. At the second Uber Elevate Summit 2018 in May (Los Angeles, California, USA), Pipistrel revealed it's new eVTOL concept. At the June Uber Elevate Summit 2019 (Washington D.C., USA) Pipistrel's Dr. Tine Tomazic, Director of R&D, made a nine minute presentation about the new Pipistrel 801 eVTOL aircraft.
As of Nov. 26, 2019, as reported in eVTOL Magazine, Pipistrel suspended work on their 801 eVTOL UAM aircraft and shifted focus to a hybrid-electric cargo drone. The company's current plan is to successfully establish their cargo drone in its market and re-enter the UAM market at a later date.
801 eVTOL Specifications:
- Propulsion: 100% electric.
- Maximum speed: 282 km/h (175 mph, 152 kn)
- Range: 97 km (60 mi, 52 n mi)
- Pilot: 1
- Capacity: 4 passengers and luggage
- Ducted lift fans for VTOL flight: 8. The fan doors close during forward flight.
- Forward flight: 1 tail mounted propeller for high-speed forward flight
- High Wing design for ease of entry of passengers.
- Noise: For VTOL flight, each fan operates at a different frequency which reduces the noise of the aircraft. Electric engine are quieter than their gasoline counterparts.
- Safety: It can fly with 2 eVTOL fans not operating. The aircraft can land safely, even with its battery packs malfunctioning. It has energy absorbing airframe and seats. It can land on a runway or road, like a conventional plane.
- Batteries: Can quickly recharge and can be changed-out in about 5 minutes.
- Electronics: Honeywell electronics will make it an easier for a pilot to fly the aircraft and it will make an easy transition to autonomous flight.
- Landing gear: Tricycle retractable.
- Pipistrel website
- Pipistrel Facebook
- Pipistrel Twitter
- Pipistrel YouTube Channel
- Pipistrel 801 eVTOL Wikipedia
- Article: Pipistrel Unveils 801 eVTOL, AVweb, Jun. 11, 2019
- Video: Uber 2019 Tine Tomazic, Michael Coates, Jun. 12, 2019
- Article: Uber Elevate Touches Down in DC, eVTOL News, Jun. 30, 2019
- Article: How Pipistrel’s 801 Aims to Leave the Competition in its Wake, Avionics International, Jul. 24, 2019
- Article: The Potential of eCTOL, eVTOL News, Aug. 29, 2019
- Article: Pipistrel shifts attention from eVTOL air taxi to low-cost cargo drone, eVTOL Magazine, Nov. 26, 2019