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Thu, Apr 19, 2018

Calstart Announces Launches 'Sustainable Aviation Project'

Will Use Four Pipistrel Alpha Electric Airplanes For Flight Training At Fresno County, CA Airports

Calstart, in partnership with the cities of Reedley and Mendota, have launched the Sustainable Aviation Project; the nation’s first production all-electric aircraft project designed to develop pilot training opportunities using zero emission electric airplanes. Funding for the project was provided by the Fresno County Measure C through the Fresno County Rural Transportation Authority.

The program will use four, two-seat Pipistrel Alpha electric aircraft, which are able to fly for 60 minutes between charges with 30-minute reserve. The typical flight training session lasts 60 minutes. The aircraft were delivered by Pipistrel in March, marking the largest single delivery of electric aircraft in history. Calstart and the two city partners are installing electric chargers at four regional airports in Fresno County to support the aircraft operations.

Using electric aircraft in this application will reduce both air and noise pollution. Small aircraft typically used in pilot training operate on gasoline engines using leaded fuel.

The San Joaquin Valley is one of the nation’s leading centers for pilot training, with prospective pilots coming from all over the world, particularly Asia, for flight training.

“We are proud to be partnering with the cities of Mendota and Reedley to launch this first of its kind program in the nation. This project will not only help improve regional air quality, it will help catalyze the rapidly emerging zero emission aircraft sector,” said Joseph Oldham, the Director of Calstart’s San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center. Oldham, a pilot, identified the concept and helped build the program. The California Energy Commission provided seed funding for the San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center.

Once the training program using the electric aircraft is fully developed, it will be targeted at residents and disadvantaged youth from the region.

The Sustainable Aviation Project is a public-private collaboration to reduce the cost of flight training through the use of all-electric general aviation airplanes. Project partners include the City of Reedley, City of Mendota, Reedley College, a local flying service, the Fresno Business Council, and the Calstart San Joaquin Valley Clean Transportation Center.

The initial spark for the idea came to Joseph Oldham while nurturing relationships between businesses and government to get zero-emission buses into public transit fleets. A pilot for over 40 years, Oldham approached Richard Duncan, manager of Fresno Chandler Executive Airport and together they began brainstorming how a network of chargers located up and down the San Joaquin Valley could support the operation of a small fleet of Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft for flight training operations.

Calstart is a national non-profit organization headquartered in California. The organization serves as a catalyst to accelerate the growth of the clean transportation technology industry as a strategy to create high quality jobs, improve public health, and prevent climate change. Calstart has more than 175 member companies and offices in three states.

(Image provided with Calstart news release)

FMI: www.calstart.org

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