Get Regular Updates!
Search
|Aussie-first electric plane takes to WA skies

Tech

image|

Electro.Aero

Aussie-first electric plane takes to WA skies

Aussie-first electric plane takes to WA skies

Meet the Perth company at the forefront of one of the hottest topics in aviation.

Aussie-first electric plane takes to WA skies

When he started his electric plane company, mechatronic engineer Joshua Portlock had a single flight in mind—the Rottnest run.

“I wanted to modernise the Rottnest Air Taxi aircraft to electric so they would be environmentally friendly, more affordable for the masses and quieter,” he says.

“I knew it would take a lot of engineering effort and time to develop and certify electric passenger aircraft.

“So I started Electro.Aero in 2014 to start researching and working on the technology and regulations needed to make electric aircraft a reality.”

Electric feel

Fast forward 5 years, and Electro.Aero is helping plane manufacturers transition from petrol to electric.

The company offers a complete electric propulsion system, including their own ducted fan technology.

They also support manufacturers to refine an aircraft’s design to cater for electric.

“There’s quite a lot of things that change,” says Josh, now Electro.Aero’s Chief Technology Officer.

“They might have to redesign the airframe a little or the nose and layout of the airframe.

“But they can at least choose electric in the next iteration of their aircraft design.”

Electro.Aero also owns and operates a small electric plane—a Pipistrel ALPHA Electro.

Last year, they became the first company in the world to obtain certification for an electric light sport aircraft.

Three weeks later, Electro.Aero completed the world’s first cross-country flight of a certified electric light sport plane.

Image|

Electro.Aero

View from the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro

View from the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro

 

Cheap thrills

Aside from being environmentally friendly, Josh says electric planes are cheap, quiet and comfortable.

He says the aircraft have about a tenth of the energy costs and a quarter of the maintenance costs of their fuel counterparts.

Electric planes are typically inaudible from the ground above 1000 feet (300 metres), and there’s less vibration, heat and noise in the cabin, Josh says.

Particle - The science story accelerator
Image|Electro.Aero
The cockpit of the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro
“It’s definitely the start of a revolution [in the aviation industry].”

“It’s starting in the small class of recreational aircraft.

“Then it will work its way up to small charter aircraft and then bigger regional aircraft.”

Leaving on a jet plane

So how long until you can fly to Sydney in an electric plane?

Josh believes batteries alone are unlikely to suit long-range commercial flights across Australia.

“However, 75% of commercial flights are less than 1000 nautical miles [1852 kilometres], which is very achievable with purely battery electric propulsion,” he says.

Josh believes long-range regional airliners will eventually transition to hybrid electric propulsion systems.

These long-haul routes could use hydrogen fuel cells for range.

“We see our technology of electric ducted fans scaling up and then the energy source changing from batteries for the smaller aircraft up to things like fuel cells,” Josh says.

I believe I can fly

For those who can’t wait, Electro.Aero is offering trial instructional flights in the Pipistrel ALPHA Electro.

Last year, the company also launched Australia’s first electric flying school at Jandakot Airport.

The program allows students to complete a Recreational Pilot Certificate in an electric plane.

The ALPHA Electro is now being transferred to a commercial training school.

Josh says electric aircraft are also easier to fly.

“They’re a lot less mechanically complex,” he says.

“So you’re not having to manage the engine, and you’re not having to maintain as many moving parts, so there’s less risk of failure.

“There’s just one switch to enable the throttle and one lever to control the amount of thrust.”

View Larger
Image|Electro.Aero
The Pipistrel ALPHA Electro
We love science puns VIDEO

Republish

Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.

Guidelines

You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.

Images

Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.

Video

All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.

Contact

For more information about using our content, email us: particle@scitech.org.au

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?