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Electric cross-Channel flight: official statement

Official statement of Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel general manager, regarding the planned attempt of the Pipistrel French distributor Finesse Max, to fly electric across the English Channel:


"Flying across the English Channel is probably the last challenge left to conquer in the field of flying with electric aircraft. Electric aircraft are at the moment approximately equally efficient as the petrol-engine aircraft were 106 years ago when Louis Bleriot first crossed the Channel by aircraft. So despite all the achievements of other electric aircraft such as Solar Impulse, the flight over the Channel is still a worthy achievement.

Pipistrel has been preparing for this feat since last October, especially when it came to obtaining authorizations to fly an electric aircraft in France and in England. The French authorities finally issued the permit last week, so our French distributor seized the opportunity and immediately prepared all the logistics to carry out the flight, which was meant to happen on the morning of 7. July at 10 am.

On Sunday 5. July in the afternoon we received by mail a letter signed by Dr. Frank Anton, head of e-Aircraft at Siemens, and by Mr. Tim Grage, Commercial Head of e-Aircraft, saying:
"Our Motor in its current version is neither designed, nor tested, nor approved by us for a flight above water - we explicitly prohibit you to use or let anyone else use our Motor for any flight above water."
The letter went on to say:
"In the event you do not inform us immediately about the location of the Motor and hand it back to us, we will take any further necessary legal steps to stop any planned flight."

We deeply regret the action of Siemens which prevented the flight - especially because on the other hand, it would be Siemens that would have enabled the flight, being that our aircraft used a Siemens electric motor. This is why we find this decision even more bizarre and incomprehensible. Siemens never forbade Pipistrel to fly over the water with their motor in any document or engine rental contract, so Pipistrel never broke any contract with Siemens. We are known as a company which respects the agreements and we will certainly continue to do so in the future.
As requested in the letter we immediately stopped the flights in France and put the aircraft back in the trailer. On the same day the head of the local Siemens factory in Haguenau came to verify if we really did so and can confirm it.
The aircraft was returned to the Pipistrel HQ facility today, Wednesday 8. July. In the next days the engine will be dismounted as requested and put on Siemens' disposal.

Pipistrel aircraft Alpha Electro has twice the range of the competitor E-fan and one third of its announced price. The biggest advantage is probably the availability: it is already possible to order and very shortly receive the Alpha Electro - but maybe not with a Siemens motor anymore.

On this occasion let me point out that it was Pipistrel that offered the first fully electric two-seat aircraft in the market, the first electric two-seat training aircraft and the first (and still the only) fully electric four seat aircraft in the world. These three aircraft belong in the elite group of less than 10 electric aircraft that are at the moment capable of flying over the Channel. Therefore we considered it logical and as our mission to perform this flight. Unfortunately it was once again the interest of the capital that prevailed, and we lost the competition on the account of fair play - we could of course still perform the flight in the next three days, but we respect Siemens and their demand not to fly over the water with their motor.

Pipistrel would like to congratulate in advance to our competitor Airbus and their pilot Mr. Francis Deborde for this new milestone in electric flight."

Ivo Boscarol,
Pipistrel general manager

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