Calin Gologan has been in the electric and solar-powered airplane business for a long time. Displaying and flying his Elektra One at Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2011, he was early to the game. Now, with the his Elektra Trainer certified, relatively inexpensive flight training is imminent.
Birgit Weissenbach announced the June 29 maiden flight, subsequent test flying, and January 19, 2023 certification of Elektra Solar’s two-seat, side-by-side trainer. In a 20-minute flight from Memmingen International Airport, taking off in less than 100 meters (328 feet), the craft confirmed “the extraordinary characteristics of the aircraft, which even exceeded the expectations of the developers.” Certification came from DULV (Deutschen Ultraleichtflugverbandes, or German Ultralight Association), as the representative of the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV).
Test pilot Uwe Nortmann reported a climb of eight meters per second (“Rising like a jet” at 1,575 feet per minute) and a low cruising speed on only 10 kilowatts (13.4 horsepower) “without vibrations in the cockpit and perfect stability promise the aircraft a great market future.”
A photo of the craft rising over the runway includes a Piper J-3 Cub, the 90-year-old trainer in which your editor received his “tail-dragger” certification (he soloed at age 19 in an Aeronca Champion 62 years ago). Comparisons are instructive. The 65-horsepower Cub levitated at about 500 feet per minute on a cold day. Weather over 85 degrees made takeoffs from short runways a bit questionable. 75-percent power (48.75 hp.) in a 65-hp. Cub gave about a 70 mph cruise and increasing the power added little speed. 85-hp. upgrades helped climb considerably, but did little to cruising speeds.
We covered the Elektra Trainer thoroughly last year, along with an overview of things to come from Elektra Solar GmbH. Along with Elektra One, the single-seat electric aircraft certified last year in the German ultralight (UL) class, Elektra Solar has two certified ultralight electric aircraft to its credit.
Elektra Solar incorporates into the Trainer a cloud infrastructure for automatic system diagnostics and preventive maintenance (Digital Aircraft Platform). As explained by the firm, “The system state data of the flight are uploaded to a cloud and automatically analyzed with the help of AI-algorithms. The errors and deviations from the normal condition are reported to the owner and/or a maintenance company. Thanks to this technology, the safety of operation will be increased, and the maintenance effort will be further reduced.”
That and a fully-redundant dual motor means safety for future flight training – a far cry from the last-century technology extant in many trainers today. Again, comparing craft in which your editor learned to fly with this trainer and others from Pipistrel, for instance, leaves no doubt that future pilots will be kept safer and possibly even learn faster.