• Work starts on the second part of the Pipistrel Gorizia factory. (Pipistrel)
    Work starts on the second part of the Pipistrel Gorizia factory. (Pipistrel)

Pipistrel has started work on a EUR 4 million expansion of its factory in Gorizia, Italy, which will result in an increase in production of the Panthera four-seat general aviation aircraft.

Currently, Pipistrel produces aircraft at its home plant in Ajdovščina, Slovenia, then ships them to Gorizia for completion and test flying. The expansion is intended mainly to increase the capacity of existing programs and to prepare components for aeroplanes.

Between 15 and 20 aircraft exit the Italian plant every month, a figure that is not expected to change despite the investment.

"This number is unlikely to increase significantly," Pipistrel said in a statement, "because we are planning to change the structure and mainly increase the production of the 4-seat Panthera, which is a much more sophisticated aircraft and takes a longer time to build."

The Panthera is a low-wing retractable that Pipistrel says will carry four people for 1000 nm at 200 KTAS. The aircraft is offered with four different power plants: 210-hp piston, 260-hp piston, 200 kW hybrid and 200 kW electric.

Pipistrel plans to have 50 people working in the new part of the plant by the end of this year, a figure which is expected to almost double by the end of 2019 before reaching 200 once the new plant is fully functional.

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