Above: One of Aerovolt’s first chargers has been installed at Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight
British startup company Aerovolt has commenced the installation of its inaugural UK aircraft charging points, with the first two ‘smart chargers’ now in place in Kent and the Isle of Wight.
‘The chargers are live and now connected to the network,’ explained Aerovolt, adding that some additional remote testing and a ‘full commissioning test with [their] aircraft’ are expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
The installations at Lydd and Sandown are part of an initial six ‘smart chargers’ to be installed during the initial phase of the project. Further chargers at Bournemouth, Lee-on-Solent and Shoreham are set to be installed throughout August and September, linking up the UK Solent region with ‘adequate safe range distances and diversion options for current operating aircraft in the electric market’.
Built by EATON in Switzerland, the chargers are being manufactured in batches of six at a rate of around 12 units a year. As technology matures, Aerovolt is also expecting an upgrade in around three to four years’ time with a charger achieving up to 100KW. ‘Squadron’, a remote ‘aviation-specific software management system’ developed in-house, will give subscribers access to the charging network and the aircraft.
A further 18 chargers are scheduled to be installed over the next 18 months, and Aerovolt can supply units to a variety of locations including ‘farm strips, aerodromes and regional airports’. Operators and aerodromes will not ‘pay a penny for the charger or its installation and ongoing maintenance costs, including any power upgrades or routing required’.
Aerovolt is also offering low-cost electric flying to PPL holders (subject to a conversion course) on the Pipistrel Velis Electro, available at £100 an hour with charging estimated to cost £7-£12 ‘depending on location and the price per KW set by the aerodrome’.