A Year of Recognition
Pipistrel celebrates the one-year anniversary of type certification for its Velis Electro.
In a press release, Taja Boscarol, Co-owner, Head of PR, and Co-director of Pipistrel d.o.o. (equivalent to a limited liability corporation in America), notes the Velis Electro remains the only type-certified electrically powered airplane in the world. Recipient of the first such recognition for a battery-powered aircraft, the Velis has received other accolades.
Recognition includes a 2020 Plane of the Year award from Plane & Pilot magazine, along with the Epic E1000, a very different craft. The magazine lauded the Velis Electro’s unobtrusive nature, both in noise and emissions. “We’re making a lot of noise about this plane, true, and that’s a bit out of place for the Velis Electro, which at certification became the quietest powered trainer in the skies. And as much talk as there is on the politics of emissions and the problem of our leaded fuel, the Velis produces zero emissions and is incredibly quiet, both qualities that will help propel light aviation deep into the millennium.”
Its lower noise has enabled flight schools and flying clubs in locations including aerodromes with nearby populations such as Toussus and Noble in France to now resume even weekend flying. Expanded time for instruction and operations will make flight schools more profitable and provide added opportunities for bring more people into the green aviation community.
Taja explains, “The simplicity of operation and drastically reduced maintenance of the electrical powerplant translates into lower operating costs and therefore cheaper flight hour costs.” Again, this provides greater opportunities for bringing more people into aviation as a recreation.
Emissions, something that can’t be ignored with conventional aircraft, are a major problem for those living near airports. One woman who lives near your editor has made it her crusade to eliminate air traffic around the Hillsboro, Oregon airport (HIO). She cites the use of 100-octane low-lead fuel as a pollution hazard for people living nearby. Despite its understandable annoyance for small aircraft pilots, her point is well taken. Pollution, along with noise, will be a determining factor in whether our aircraft are able to use local fields.
As with all electric aircraft, Taja points out, “Emissions can be cut practically to zero, especially when electricity is generated from renewable sources. This is the case of the aerodromes of Fribourg-Ecuvillens in Switzerland and Aix Les Milles in southern France, which implemented solar energy chargers for electric aircraft and have recently become the home bases of their first Velis Electros. Each Velis Electro, compared to emissions from conventional two-seat trainers, elimates pollution from burning 20 kilograms (44 pounds or 7.33 gallons per hour).
Numbers and Achievements
Produced at a current rate of five per month, six Electros have been ordered by Pipistrel’s “launch customer,” the French Aeronautical Federation (FFA). Green Aerolease has an additional 50 on order, plus 150 on option.
Alpin Airplanes, a Swiss flight training operation (FTO) flies 13 so far in 10 FTOs, averaging about 150 flight hours per month. Rapid accumulation of flight hours will help sell more electric Pipistels, already popular in nine countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The entire fleet has logged over 1,500 hours, saving 94,000 kilograms of CO2 from being dispersed into the atmosphere compared to “older gas-guzzling trainers.”
Over 200 pilots have received their endorsements to fly the Velis Electro. 29 pilot instructors are approved to train on the aircraft. 27 Part-66 licensed mechanics from nine Part-145 maintenance organizations have been trained to maintain and repair the Velis Electro.
Perhaps a sign of future interest from other governments, two Velis Electros will be leased by the Danish Defense arm, making them the first air force to operate electrically powered aircraft.
Velis Electros have been flown in two record-breaking adventures – a major achievement for a new aircraft. The Electric World Record Flight by Swiss aviators managed to set five of the seven records the pilots intended.
Elektropostal is a homage to the brave pilots who pioneered Aeropostale’s routes in the 1920s. This year’s flight will connect France and North Africa, the final destination being Casablanca.
Pipistrel’s Velis Electro has become a big hit, and with manufacturing in Slovenia, Italy and China, could end up being the essential trainer for future pilots