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.
The Pipistrel Nuuva V300 is a hybrid-electric VTOL uncrewed long-range large-capacity autonomous cargo drone. The Nuuva V300 cruise speeds and payload capacity are dependent upon the range needed and the weight of the cargo. In some general terms, the top cruise speed of the aircraft is 220 km/h (137 mph) and the maximum payload weight is 460 kg (1,000 lb). The aircraft takes off and lands using electric motors, powered by batteries, to turn the VTOL propellers but then uses an internal combustion engine for the pusher propeller, for forward flight. The company has also made another hybrid-electric uncrewed cargo drone called the Nuuva V20 with a maximum payload of 20 kg (44 lb).
The company has lots of experience with electric aircraft, selling electric airplanes since 2007 and designing and developing their 801 eVTOL air taxi aircraft for Uber Air. However, their eVTOL air taxi was shelved in 2019 until further notice. The company states it's cargo drone costs 10 times less than a helicopter, has less parts than a helicopter, doesn't need runways, is less noisy, and the aircraft is much safer and more reliable than a helicopter. 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.
Some Key Features of the Nuuva V300
- Simplicity of Operation. The aircraft nose section lifts which leaves a large opening for cargo loading. The drone can hold three standard Euro-pallets (EPAL) using a forklift and holds other types of cargo containers as well. The freight is fastened and secured using restraint nets or straps, with catches on the side of the fuselage to assure the load is tied-down. The flight plan is preloaded at a ground station, then after lift-off, the Nuuva V300 flies autonomously to its destination, controlled by a highly reliable, triple-redundant flight control system. Continuous communication during flight allows the ground operator to gain control of the aircraft in case of changes or the cancellation of the flight.
- Next Generation Propulsion. The Nuuva V300 takes-off and lands using eight independent battery-powered Pipistrel E-811 electric engines. The whole system is safeguarded by the integrated health self-monitoring system that alerts potential malfunctions before they occur, increasing the reliability and safety of the aircraft. An internal combustion engine is in the aft fuselage and powers the aircraft's pusher propeller for forward flight and aerodynamics are enhanced by its tandem-wing configuration.
- Flexibility. The Nuuva V300 can be optimized to fly a lighter load with a longer range or fly a heavy load with a shorter range. The aircraft also has anti-ice capabilities.
- Low Operating Cost. The Nuuva V300 combines the best of both fixed-wing and rotory-wing aircraft allowing the aircraft to fly like a plane but land where planes can't land. Meanwhile, the Nuuva V300's hybrid-electric VTOL flight cost is a fraction of the cost of a helicopter performing the same cargo delivery. Around the world, electricity is typically half the cost of petroleum made fuel and during forward cruise flight, there is low fuel consumption due to the aircraft relying on its efficient wings. In addition, electric motors are less costly, have less parts, have an immediate start-up and shut-down rate, are more reliable and last longer than internal combustion engines.
Pipistrel sees their cargo drone to be suited for cargo and humanitarian aid delivery. Then after the public sees the value of cargo drones and the public sees it's importance, Pipistrel has said it will then begin to manufacture passenger eVTOL aircraft. According to information provided at an Uber Summit in 2017 (Held in Dallas, Texas, USA), the company is also developing another aircraft that is yet unnamed. The company expects to have a 20,000 hour service life for the aircraft. Their goal is to have it flying in 2020 and begin production in 2022.
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL cargo drone
- Piloting: Autonomous
- Capacity: Cargo
- Cargo hold dimensions: 3.65 X 0.85 X 1.00 m / 12.0 X 2.8 X 3.3 ft
- Cargo hold volume: 3 m3 (meters to the 3rd power) / 106 ft3 (feet to the 3rd power)
- Economy cruise speed: 165 km/h (103 mph)
- Fast cruise speed: 220 km/h (137 mph)
- Endurance: Up to 12 hours
- Typical mission range (+ 30 min reserve): 300 km (186 miles)
- Maximum range (+ 30 min reserve): Up to 2,500 km (1,553 miles)
- Maximum altitude: 2,438 m (8,000 ft)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 1,700 kg (3,750 lb)
- Typical mission payload weight: 300 kg (660 lb)
- Maximum payload weight: 460 kg (1,014 lb)
- Propellers: 9 propellers, 8 VTOL propellers and 1 pusher propeller
- Electric Motors: 8 electric engines
- Internal combustion engine: 1 High-efficiency FADEC engine
- Fuselage: Carbon Fiber
- Total length: 11.3 m (33 ft, 1 in)
- Fuselage length: 9.3 m (30 ft, 6 in)
- Height: 3.1 m (10 ft, 0 in)
- Wings: Tandem wings (the front wing is low and the rear wing is high)
- Landing gear: Four stub legs
- Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft.
- Pipistrel website
- Pipistrel Facebook
- Pipistrel Twitter
- Pipistrel YouTube Channel
- Pipistrel 801 eVTOL Wikipedia
- Article: Pipistrel eVTOL News, eVTOL News, Feb. 23, 2019
- Article: Pipistrel shifts attention from eVTOL air taxi to low-cost cargo drone, eVTOL Magazine, Nov. 26, 2019
- Article: Pipistrel Committed to Uber Despite Shifting Priorities, eVTOL News, June 12, 2020
- Article: Green Motion and Pipistrel are announcing partnership to develop a universal charging technology for electric airplanes, Pipistrel, July 21, 2020
- Article: Pipistrel begins to accept orders for Nuuva series of cargo eVTOL aircraft, Pipistrel, Sept. 1, 2020
- Video: Pipistrel Nuuva V300 | Unmanned Cargo eVTOL Aircraft, Pipistrel, Sept. 1, 2020
- Article: Pipistrel announces Nuuva hybrid VTOL cargo drone, New Atlas, Sept. 2, 2020
- Article: This autonomous cargo plane that can replace traditional helicopters is now accepting orders — take a look at the Nuuva V300, Business Insider, Sept. 17, 2020
- Article: Pipistrel selects Honeywell to provide advanced control technology for Nuuva V300 unmanned cargo aircraft, Pipistrel, Oct. 21, 2020