CAE Unveils Kit To Electrify Piper Trainers

Marc Parent, CAE President and CEO, briefs Farnborough on the Piper Archer plans.
Credit: Aviation Week Network

FARNBOROUGH—Aviation training powerhouse CAE is teaming up with Piper Aircraft to develop a conversion kit for the Piper Archer to bring an electric variant of the widely used training aircraft to market.

The project, unveiled July 19 at the Farnborough Airshow, will enable a switch to electric for the 28,000 Piper Archers currently in operation worldwide. Montreal-based CAE will develop the modification kit via a Supplemental Type Certificate. Other partners include Safran Electrical & Power, which will supply the conversion kit’s new ENGINeUS 100 electric motor, and H55 of Switzerland, which will design and manufacture the kit’s battery.

“We are now in the stage of electrification where technology is working its way up to where it can be a propulsion system for viable training aircraft for flight schools,” said Ron Gunnarson, Piper’s vice president for sales and marketing.

CAE President and CEO Marc Parent said his company will leverage its engineering expertise and role as one of the largest Piper Archer operators “to make electric-powered flight a reality at our flight schools and beyond.”  The project is being funded through a five-year, C$1 billion ($770 million) innovation initiative the company has launched with support from the Canadian government and the province of Quebec.

Some key details of the new project remain unclear. Parent said CAE is not ready to say when the conversion kit will be available for sale, but added, “We’re not talking years here.” The company also is not yet saying how much the kit will cost.

“Our sleeves are rolled, our team is ready,” Parent said. “We are making a huge leap in sustainable aviation.”

Joe Anselmo

Joe Anselmo has been Editorial Director of the Aviation Week Network and Editor-in-Chief of Aviation Week & Space Technology since 2013. Based in Washington, D.C., he directs a team of more than two dozen aerospace journalists across the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific.