Friday 22 June 2018

Pipistrel Aircraft of New Zealand (1) - Sinuses

Pipistrel d.o.o. is an aircraft manufacturer based in Ajdovscina, Slovenia which is close to the North Eastern Italian border at the head of the Adriatic Sea.  It was founded by Ivo Boscarel in 1989 producing powered hang gliders, although some had been made prior to 1989.  (This was back in the days of Yugoslavia when legal restrictions prevented such activity so the hang gliders were flown clandestinely at dusk and because of this and their shape they were given the nickname "bats", the latin name for which is pipistrelis  and this is where the name Pipistrel comes from).  In the mid 1990s when composite materials became more widely available, the company moved from manufacturing trikes into powered gliders and one of their earliest models was the 15 metre wingspan Sinus.

Development of the Sinus began in 1994 and it first flew in 1996.  Of all composite construction, it is a true motor glider with a cantilever wingspan of 14.97 metres (49 feet 1 inch) which gives a glide ratio of 30:1, and a length of 6.6 metres (21 feet 8 inches).  It has airbrakes like a glider and flaperons that can be reflexed to provide a more effecient wing.  It can be flown as a taildragger or as a tri-gear, and we have had both in New Zealand.  Empty weight is around  285 Kg (628 pounds) and MAUW is 544 Kg (1200 pounds).  The most common power plant is the Rotax 912 of 80 HP (with a fully feathering propellor for soaring), and with this engine the cruise speed is around 125 mph, while the stall is around 40 mph which makes it a quite remarkable aircraft.

We have had four Pipistrel Sinuses in New Zealand to date:

Our first Sinus was ZK-GPI (c/n 134SN91230204Kit49) which was first registered in New Zealand on 10/11/06 to Pipistrel Aircraft NZ Ltd of Kerikeri (Alan Clarke).  But it was a 2004 model that was first registered in the US on 20/4/04 to a Utah owner as N2759D.  It then migrated to Australia as 24-4482 at the end of 2005 before being flown across the Tasman from Coolangatta via Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island on 11/6/06 and then on to Kerikeri on 12/6/06.  The above photo was taken at Ardmore on 3/3/07.

It is still owned by the New Zealand agents, Pipistrel Aircraft NZ Ltd, and it has recently been refurbished by Solo Wings at Tauranga, where the above photo was taken on 14/10/16.

Our next Sinus was ZK-GIM2 (c/n 129S9120104) which was registered to Kester Holdings Ltd (Ian Kester and others) on 15/6/09.  It was also an ex Australian aircraft, having been first registered as VH-ZHL on 20/5/04.  Ownership changed to Colin Alexander and Adrian Cable of Tauranga on 21/4/11.  It suffered a couple of incidents including an undercarriage collapse at Tauranga on 14/2/11 and a forced landing at Te Horo on 9/12/12 resulting in it overturning, but it was repaired.

It was sold to George Taylor of Mossburn on 3/5/15 and it is photo'd in his ownership at the 2017 RAANZ flyin at Rangiora, on 31/3/17.

Next up was ZK-YPM (c/n 466) which was registered to Soichiro Fukutake of Auckland on 10/10/12.  It was quickly sold South, on 8/11/12,  to U Fly Ltd of Wanaka (Wayne and Ruth Allanson), and then under theirn continuing ownership, being transferred to U Fly Ltd of Haast on 16/4/14 and to Waiatoto River Safaris of Haast on 21/7/16.

It is photo'd here at Wanaka on 18/2/13, showing the different badging on the port and starboard sides.

The starboard side laurel leaves commemorate the Sinus winning several awards as detailed above while the NASA logo on the port side celebrates the winning of the majority of the categories for the 2007 NASA run PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) challenge run under the CAFE Foundation (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) criteria.

Actually the awards were won in the short (10 metre) wing version of the aircraft which is called the Virus.  Pipistrel has recently introduced a new model called the Sinus Flex with interchangeable wingtips so you can have a Sinus or a Virus.

And finally for now is ZK-RDZ2 (c/n 515SN912LSA) which was registered to the Dold Trust of Paihia on 5/4/13.  Look at that wingspan!  This aircraft is an LSA with a higher MAUW of 585 Kg.

I had never seen a photo of it but Roger Dold has kindly sent the above photos, taken at Kerikeri.  Thanks very much Roger.

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