Grob Tutor 2: Electric Boogaloo

Forgive the flippant title, but saw an interesting post on Twitter about the RAF looking for an all electric replacement for the Tutor for UAS/AEF/Flying Grading.

Would be cool to see if the technology is mature enough.

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Well I certainly think electric is the future - whilst ill be sad to see the Cessna’s out of the job (i’ll be glad never to fly a warrior again!)

I guess this follows suit from the Pipistrel Velis which received CAA approval earlier in Feb this year… I’ve not seen it fly but heard it around on Farnborough LARS frequency.

Not too sure id be comfortable flying it until the endurance is improved (50min atm + reserves) IIRC, so Tutor II with 90min would be a good start

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Victor_Zulu is right the Pipistrel is a very good starting point, for those interested here is a good idea of the what that aircraft can achieve:
YouTube clip (20 minutes)

Endurance has always been a concern with electric vehicles, be it cars (which is now improving) to now aircraft but by 2027…I think we should have something viable by then, consider how far cars have come in the last 5 or so years if we see a similar improvements in the technology over the next 5 years I am sure the RAF’s specification will be out there - or very close anyway.
(although I am certain any “quick turnaround” will require a battery cassette which is exchanged

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That clip is interesting.

I can definitely see electric trainer aircraft being the majority norm by 2035 in Europe.

i agree it is pretty much the way the industry will go and the people at Pipistrel know that and worked on it it first (or at least got it to work first)…but they won’t be the last

You’re not alone - so much work going on in this field! It won’t be long until we see the light end of GA moving to electric and then as the tech develops the bigger stuff will follow.

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I wonder if it would mean a reduction in AEF/UAS operating sites. Presumably the skills needed for maintaining electric aircraft are less common then piston engines.

I guess you’d also need dedicated battery handling equipment and charging facilities that may spell the end for some AEFs.

Will defer to the experts on this as I have no idea, but is this a realistic fear?

I would argue the opposite.

Electric motors are much simpler and self contained. Little maintenance. Batteries yes need charging
But it would be from something akin to what you would recognise as an electric car charging port.

Going electric could actually mean AEFs become more readily available.

No liquid fuel needed. Far safer.
Bare in mind that AVGAS is only refined in very small Quantaties anyway.

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I would have thought, in the long term, this would be the case… Also AvGas isn’t exactly cheap, so costs per sortie will be dramatically reduced.

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Ah interesting - anything to make flying more accessible gets a tick in my book.

Are there any electric aircraft rated for aerobatic flying yet?

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Unsure if any electric aero qualified aircraft exist yet. @GoodEgg do you know?

With liquid fuel aircraft the issue includes whether or not the engine sump and pump can overcome the forces etc and keep fuel fed.

With electric all this is no longer an issue. So it just falls to the usual structural requirements and g-force loading etc etc.

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Extra 330LE springs to mind…

the only electric aircraft I know of which has any kind of aviation authority for flying is the Pipistrel

although you’re right to say “less common” there is also far less to go wrong. Essentially the technology for the “engine” (motor) bit is no more complex than a desk fan - supply electric current, motor spins, fan spin.

the airframe will still need maintenance on hour based timelines (25, 50, 100hr…etc) be this checks for wear or simply replacement after X-hundred hours - and there is an argument this is where the specialist knowledge is - although the infrastructure is already in place for that.

going forward (and off topic) the car mechanic is going to be a career of the past the more we move to electric in comparison to what it is now
while it is standard to have engines services with new spark plugs, replacement oil, new drive belts/chains etc and there are accepted wearing parts such as brake pads and discs, exhausts and just general faults which get attention, the vast majority of these disappear or are severely reduced with electric cars. the one element that certainly remains is tyres.

this isn’t so critical for the aviation mechanic. there are still the same moving parts which need inspection, the same mechanical linkages which are checked all the existing airframe maintenance remains with a electric motor out the front which requires next to no maintenance due to the limited wear parts or number moving parts and cooling requirements the aircraft mechanic simply walks past that phase of their inspection
with the automotive industry that isn’t the case as the only time we care about the body of the car is when it needs cleaning or unbending after an collision.

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Or deploy to localised sites instead of sitting at a station in the middle of nowhere?

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They’re still going to need fire cover (see what happens to electric cars when things hit the proverbial…) which means the full provisions of RAF airfields.

And the idea that they’d be a like for like replacement for the Tutors (in terms of numbers) is beyond laughable. We’d get half the original numbers if we’re lucky.

UAS’ don’t need to fly as much as they do, their hours will be cut right down, and AEF hours will go down correspondingly.

AEF hours really need to not go down.
But I suspect you’re right.

Wouldn’t be surprised if flying goes to gliding and sim only

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Have done virtual SSIC this week and someone asked the commandant about use of synthetic and also electric. He said tutor replacement will be electric and wants gliding net zero. Wants synthetic to allow cadets to make the most of the actual flights they get but stated he firmly believes that we must keep flying as the ‘air’ in air cadets and not lose that USP. Also aims that every cadet should have the opportunity of a flight, either powered or glider, every year so I hope that means we will see an increase in the opportunities. :crossed_fingers:

…or a reduction in Cadets
thats-funny

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That’s a big old aim compared with where we are now.

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