Help Promote Electric Aviation

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

cheapracer

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Kind of hard to take the whole green thing seriously when it's generally just a big game of 3 card Monte.
I have an EV dealership, starting to do quite well, and I am a member of a couple of Facebook Groups to do with EVs as I like to see the trends ect.

They are a magnet for climate change crackpots, sad to say, and when some of them annoy me enough with their bollshot, I have a look at their FB page and immediately the hypocrisy stands out. They all want some perfect world, jump on any "Name and Shame" bandwagon, but are unwilling to sacrifice any modern luxury they already have. The real Climateers aren't even on the internet, refusing all aspects of modern life.

I love my EVs, powerful, smooth, quiet, and nothing to do with being "Green", apparently I am an odd man out..

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
Sorry, long post follows.
But the cause of your outrage is between your ears, not anything this group has done or said.
Please take this down a notch, Skippy. No need to make this personal--I'm not.
It's fine if you don't want to support it because you just don't like electric vehicles.
Where's this coming from? Most of my posts in this thread have made the point that I support electric aircraft. In fact, I think the 103 rules should be amended to allow electric aircraft to get some weight credit for the fuel that is allowed to be carried by other Part 103 aircraft. I'm just no longer giving a pass to the feel-good green claims if they aren't supported by facts.

Please quote their website, application or the original post for where they claim clean, green, or any big hand-waving claims, other than the single mention in the application about reduced emissions in the San Joaquin Valley training area.
As you wish. A brief sampling:
From the original post (instances in red):
“Joseph Oldham, director of the Sustainable Aviation Project (SAP) asked me to pass this information along . . . .
Those wanting to advance clean aviation.
When there's a green buzzword in the name of the organization and of the project--can we please just drop the pretense that this isn't part of the claimed justification?

From a letter signed by Mr Oldham (CEO of New Vision Aviation (NVA)) and the city managers of Reedly and Mendota:
The Sustainable Aviation Project's goal is to demonstrate proof of concept and develop pilot training
opportunities that are cost efficient and ecologically sensitive using zero emission electric airplanes
Zero emissions-- gotta love that. The letter is sprinkled with other happy talk and half-truths. I recommend you give it a read before trying to tell anyone that this effort isn't wrapped in a green justification. They are rolling in it.

For those wondering, this "affordable" program has involved the purchase of the 4 electric aircraft and ancillary equipment (for the use at the main FBO) for a total price of $745,000. Additional costs include$15,000 for each additional charger. Surprise! It's all "public" money. That's a time-honored but increasingly common route to "affordability"--transfer the cost to someone else.

If we want to consider the "affordability" in more conventional terms, let's look at the numbers. The claimed benefit is that fuel costs (for electricity) are reduced to $4.88 per hour (it will be slightly cheaper in the winter) If we instead flew a C-152, it would burn about 6 GPH, which prices out to$31.80 per hour (at the $5.30/gal charged at Fresno Chandler Executive Airport today). Let's round it up to$33.88/gal to include oil. So, our electric plane reduces fuel costs by $28/hr. But the additional fuel bill only applies when the plane is actually being rented. The folks in the SAP say that will be 4 hours per aircraft per day (IMO, very unlikely, but we'll see). This is key, because the much higher fixed costs of the electric airplanes (especially for insurance and capital) accrue whether the planes are rented or not. Capital costs: Clean, straight, perfectly serviceable C-152s are widely available anywhere in the country for$40,000 - $50,000 each, compared to the approximately$185K being spent for each of these electric Pipistrels. In the real world (i.e. not using government funds), capital has a cost. Business owners understand that the $140K difference in the cost of these electric planes will equate to about$48 per day (financed over a 15 year service life, at the prevailing small business loan rate of 10% per year). For a one-trick pony aircraft that can operate only at 4 airports.
Insurance: Insurance costs are highly correlated with hull value. "New Vision Aviation" (the entity that benefits from the purchase of these SAP aircraft) is paying $6500 per year to insure each of these electric airplanes. The cost to insure their (gas powered) Pipistrel is just$3600 per year. That's still more than an FBO would pay to insure a C-152. The much higher insurance costs for the electric planes will either need to be passed to students or made "affordable" in the way the school is apparently making other things "affordable" (have someone else pay). The added insurance cost for the electric planes comes to about $8 per day--every single day. Higher capital and insurance costs =$56 for every single day. That money comes right out of the flight school's till whether they fly or not--Christmas, etc.
If our planes fly 4 hours every single day, the higher capital and insurance costs will wipe out half of the purported hourly savings in fuel costs. Now, add in reality (planes down for MX/repairs, weather not conducive to training, scheduling issues, etc) and it is very likely the real world savings will be zero.

The Pipistrel USA website tells us what this electric training looks like:
The flight testing is quantifying the amount of energy necessary for cross-country flight in various wind and temperature conditions and for maneuvers such as a standard traffic pattern. Flight duration averages about 40 minutes per charge while landing with more than 20 percent state of charge (SOC) remaining in the batteries, the level that Pipistrel recommends as a minimum for landing.
So each sortie is about 40 minutes. That's a lot shorter than a typical flight in a "regular" trainer--more trips to and from the airport to get the same amount of flying time. Unless our student is riding a skateboard to the airport, let's not forget to add the fuel used in those additional trips into the "green" equation.

Don't like C-152s? Rotax 912UL powered Pipistrel Alpha's are apparently much less expensive than the "Electros" and certainly more capable--students could actually fly somewhere, and the planes could operate more hours per day (so, a school would need fewer of them). NVA chief Oldham says their Alpha with a Rotax burns $11-$12 in fuel per hour, so only about $6 to$9 more per hour in fuel compared to the electric planes. That's much less than the expected additional insurance and capital costs per hour of the electric planes.

But, we hardly needed to crunch any numbers. Let's just look at the planes that private flight schools (i.e. that actually support themselves) really use--"experienced" C-152s. Are they banging down the FAA's doors to get permission to use electric airplanes? No, because they know these electric planes are not economically feasible in the US. They'll be expensive to keep running, and they have very limited utility (even in the context of a flight school). The first and only US applicant requesting a change to allow use of these electric SLSA aircraft for flight training is a program that is not subject to free market forces. Surprise!

Gonna save money on maintenance with these electric planes? We'll see. A C-152 can take the abuse that happens in flight training, maybe the Pipistrel Alpha Electro will be as tough. The folks that are playing this game with their own money are apparently unconvinced.

If electric trainers made financial/operational sense, real businesses would be flying them, (or asking for permission to fly them). It appears to me that Mr Oldham has found a local source of "green" money (he beat out some folks that wanted to use the grants for electric buses and some other projects of evident public utility). He got his taxpayer-funded battery planes claiming he'd use them for a flying school/club (NVA), now he wants an FAA rule change to allow that.

Last edited:

Pops

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Sounds like you have run a business where you had to make a profit or close the doors and go hungry. Not being able to live on someone else's money and earn real money to live is an eye opener for some people. Run a business and get one of the best educations you can get. That is the real world.

BBerson

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Cost of the charging energy is not significant. However, replacement cost of the batteries is usually much more, in my experience, and must be included in cost per hour. They don't usually mention battery life because it varies. Claims of battery life are often exaggerated.

Toobuilder

Well-Known Member
Log Member
...I love my EVs, powerful, smooth, quiet, and nothing to do with being "Green", apparently I am an odd man out..
I can relate. I don't own an EV yet, but if the math works out, I'm down. A buddy owns one of those Tesla SUV things and he just shredded my Corvette one day leaving work. That's the thing that will sell me. I don't have any delusional fantasy that the electricity running out of the outlet at the recharger is "clean". The generating station may as well run on ground up black rhino horns for all I care.

BBerson

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Cost of the charging energy is not significant. However, replacement cost of the batteries is usually much more, in my experience, and must be included in cost per hour. They don't usually mention battery life because it varies. Claims of battery life are often exaggerated.
I found this:
[How long will the batteries last, what is their lifespan in years and
charge cycles before the batteries drop to 75% of the original
capacity. 17 years. 300 to 700 cycles depending on careful operation according to POH.

Complete battery replacement is 19,500 euro. The warranty is 2 years,]
(from website)

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
I found this:
[How long will the batteries last, what is their lifespan in years and
charge cycles before the batteries drop to 75% of the original
capacity. 17 years. 300 to 700 cycles depending on careful operation according to POH.

Complete battery replacement is 19,500 euro. The warranty is 2 years,]
(from website)
If we give it best case, 700 cycles. Mr Oldham's numbers indicate he plans to fly each plane 4 times per day. So, 175 days of use. He's got some spare battery packs, but the cost calculations are the same: $21,600 for a battery that gives me 700 hours of flight =$31 per hour of flight (except you don't get an hour of flight per battery cycle, you really get just 40 minutes. But, let's not quibble over that). That makes the hourly overhaul reserve for a Lycoming look cheap. And this $31 is being spent to save$9/hour in fuel (compared to the Rotax powered Pipistrel Alpha). Yep---you can only sell this kind of setup with "green logic." Or, they plan to actually use the batteries at this rate so they crump out before the 2 year warranty and they can keep flying on batteries provided by Pipistrel under warranty--for awhile. (Edited to add: Pipistrel warranty for the electrical propulsion system is "2 years/100 hours, whichever comes first." Quite a vote of confidence.)

Don't even think about asking asking about the environmental issues related to the production and recycling of those batteries. Like the fuel being burned to power the plane, the environmental burden is placed on people who don't live in Fresno, so the batteries are "zero emission."
Tax dollars at work . . .People who honestly do care about the environment should be the most upset by wasteful boondoggles like this one. Oh, and taxpayers should be livid.

Last edited:

Dan Thomas

Well-Known Member
Tax dollars at work . . .People who honestly do care about the environment should be the most upset by wasteful boondoggles like this one. Oh, and taxpayers should be livid.
In Ontario, Canada, the province offered a rebate of, IIRC, $8000 to folks that bought an EV. Since only rich folks could afford EVs, the average Joe Plumber guy ended up helping the rich guy buy a nice car while Joe struggled to feed his family. We're not supposed to get political here, but it's really, really hard not to explode over logic like that. BJC Well-Known Member HBA Supporter bmcj Well-Known Member HBA Supporter In Ontario, Canada, the province offered a rebate of, IIRC,$8000 to folks that bought an EV. Since only rich folks could afford EVs, the average Joe Plumber guy ended up helping the rich guy buy a nice car while Joe struggled to feed his family. We're not supposed to get political here, but it's really, really hard not to explode over logic like that.
Politically motivated laws and incentives are not always well thought out or implemented. When President Obama early in his first term added a new electric vehicle incentive (large rebates and tax breaks) to promote sales of EV’s, the action lacked sufficient detail and constraint. As a result, just about everyone in my neighborhood bought brand new loaded golf carts and the rebate (Federal Government) fully paid for them.

tspear

Well-Known Member
If we give it best case, 700 cycles. Mr Oldham's numbers indicate he plans to fly each plane 4 times per day. So, 175 days of use. He's got some spare battery packs, but the cost calculations are the same: $21,600 for a battery that gives me 700 hours of flight =$31 per hour of flight (except you don't get an hour of flight per battery cycle, you really get just 40 minutes. But, let's not quibble over that). That makes the hourly overhaul reserve for a Lycoming look cheap. And this $31 is being spent to save$9/hour in fuel (compared to the Rotax powered Pipistrel Alpha). Yep---you can only sell this kind of setup with "green logic." Or, they plan to actually use the batteries at this rate so they crump out before the 2 year warranty and they can keep flying on batteries provided by Pipistrel under warranty--for awhile. (Edited to add: Pipistrel warranty for the electrical propulsion system is "2 years/100 hours, whichever comes first." Quite a vote of confidence.)

Don't even think about asking asking about the environmental issues related to the production and recycling of those batteries. Like the fuel being burned to power the plane, the environmental burden is placed on people who don't live in Fresno, so the batteries are "zero emission."
Tax dollars at work . . .People who honestly do care about the environment should be the most upset by wasteful boondoggles like this one. Oh, and taxpayers should be livid.
You do realize, Lycoming and Continental both only have 24 month warranties?

Tim

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
You do realize, Lycoming and Continental both only have 24 month warranties?

Tim
"You do realize" that the warranty of both companies is 24 months or the recommended engine TBO (whichever comes first),right? The TBO is a lot more than the 100 hours Pipistrel is offering on this power system warranty. If a flight school really flies their plane 4 hours per day, it'll be out of the Pipistrel propulsion system warranty in less than one month.
This very limited Pipistrel warranty for a novel propulsion system should be a giant red flag for any potential purchaser (unless you can get the planes "for free" as the subject of this thread did. In that case, no need for due diligence.)

Last edited:

Victor Bravo

Well-Known Member
All of the emotional and economic discussions aside for a moment... There have been electric aircraft that have been tested and demonstrated for many years now, starting with old Bob Boucher "the father of electric flight" in R/C model airplanes over 40 years ago.

But modern-era, full size, passenger-carrying, production electric airplanes that you can buy from a dealer are a "new thing". We haven't been able to buy a new retail alectric aircraft for long, and certainly not one with two seats that is as much of an airplane as it is a glider.

So considering that, I personally support any and all legitimate attempts like this to demonstrate the technology in a daily use situation.

The economics of using a new technology or a new power source are always going to me more expensive and fraught with problems in the beginning. It was that way when internal combustion engines replaced the horse and buggy, and it was that way when the computer was the size of a Sherman tank.

But like some of you out there, I'm old enough to remember Bob Boucher and the first Astro-Flite electric model airplanes. They were a novelty that didn't work that well, and it was expensive and heavy. Your gas powered model airplane could run circles around an electric model; the old K&B and O.S. gas engines were cheaper to buy and cheaper to run. But only a dozen years later the electrics got better, and were more or less viable. Nowdays electric models more often have better performance and lower cost than the gas models.

Now we're seeing that very same principle starting to come into play today, where an electric car (an SUV for goodness sakes) can get away from Toobuilder's Corvette. How many people would have bet against that five, ten, twenty years ago?

The point underneath all this is that the electric Pipistrel trainer flight school is an early public demonstration that is well worth seeing and giving a chance. Of course they're not ready to obsolete all of the flight schools with 152's and Cherokees. Of course the technology and the economics are not rolled out to scale yet.

How much did the first Motorola "brick" cell phone cost? It couldn't nearly compete with my Ma Bell land line in terms of cost. I just bought a phone a few months ago at WalMart for $79.00. A flight school with new electric Pipistrels certainly doesn't compete economically with a shoddy old school flying clapped out 152's. And it can't compete with a school using 912 powered Pipistrel Alphas... yet. Vigilant1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter A flight school with new electric Pipistrels certainly doesn't compete economically with a shoddy old school flying clapped out 152's. And it can't compete with a school using 912 powered Pipistrel Alphas... yet. These electric Pipistrels might make sense for a wealthy person who had some nearby strong and consistent ridge lift available. Go out, fly around for awhile once or twice per week. Replace the battery every few years. OTOH, a flight school where the planes will be used intensively is a very dumb application. By Pipistrel's own numbers, the operational costs will be higher than a Rotax powered plane, to say nothing of insurance and capital costs. The per hour battery replacement costs are twice the per hour costs of fuel for the Rotax. It is being ""sold" as more affordable, which is ridiculous (at best. It might more properly be termed something else that has legal ramifications). Boosters of electric flight (and those concerned about environmental issues) should oppose this project, it will give their "movement" a black eye. Last edited: BoKu Pundit HBA Supporter ...300 to 700 cycles depending on careful operation according to POH... I'm reserving judgement until I see what the actual cycle limits are. Remember when the USAF used its conservative spares allocation metrics when rolling out the B-47 and F-86, and ended up with surplus GE J47 engines stacked up like cordwood? Battery performance has been increasing at a fairly steady 7% per year for quite a while now. That might not sound like much, but if your 401(k) did that year over year, you'd be ecstatic. My thinking is that the original Pipistrel batteries will probably last longer than they estimate, and that by the time they need replacement there will be improved batteries with better performance and economics. Hephaestus Well-Known Member In a training scenario - you're probably going to do way better than expected for cycle life... What kills lipos fastest is sitting unused... Remember that storage charge setting on your RC charger? There's a reason it's there... Full charge sit for a week you're doing damage, low charge sit for a week you're doing damage... Meanwhile if you're repeatedly charging and draining daily - you're doing whats the battery is meant to do. As long as your charging within reason and at a reasonable rate, limiting that idle time... The super high mileage tesla's and leafs are showing it, I've seen 2 stories of over 1million km electric cars in my facebook recently - but then there are those that are super low mileage with battery issues... There's a reason... Vigilant1 Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter The Pipistrel folks, who presumably know a lot about the battery, battery management, chargers, and actual results in aviation use say: How long will the batteries last, what is their lifespan in years and charge cycles before the batteries drop to 75% of the original capacity? 17 years. 300 to 700 cycles depending on careful operation according to POH So, according to Pipistrel, do everything right and a user might get up to 700 cycles. Replacement batteries are over$21,000. That's $30/hour. At this rate, fuel for the Rotax 912 and the engine reserve for a replacement at TBO is less than just the battery costs for the electric version. Last edited: Hephaestus Well-Known Member And they're also covering their warranty providing arses So at <300 cycles you're fully covered on a battery replacement, at 690 cycles you're pro-rated... Just saying - as has been demonstrated elsewhere - there's more to it... Partly why I was pointing out the experience with the tesla and leaf packs - the more it's used the longer it lasts. Therefore in a training operation where you'd hopefully have multiple flights per day - they could very well last longer. You wont hear me saying this is a great idea... I have major concerns about suitability of electric today, and specifically about the batteries. BUT this is one place an electric aircraft could thrive as we've learned from experience in other EV sectors. However I don't see how you're getting your cross country training in this aircraft. BJC Well-Known Member HBA Supporter The Pipistrel folks, who presumably know a lot about the battery, battery management, chargers, and ..... So, according to Pipistrel, do everything right and a user might get up to 700 cycles. Replacement batteries are over$21,000. That's \$30/hour.
Based on my conversion with them at Oshkosh, I concluded that, as V1 previously suggested, a one hour flight of touch and go’s followed by a fast recharge for another flight the same day, much less two or three additional flights, would drastically shorten the battery life.

I’m hoping for, and expecting to see, a reasonably priced electric airplane, but I believe that it will be an E-AB kit plane rather than a SLSA.

BJC

BBerson

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Dale Kramer tested his Electric Lazair batteries and found they went 250 charges.

2