World-first type certification awarded to Pipistrel electric plane
Pipistrel's battery-powered Velis Electro aircraft has become the world's first electric airplane to be awarded type certification by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The certification confirms that the Velis Electro is airworthy in its particular category of aircraft, and marks the clearing of a significant hurdle on its road towards commercial use.
Based on the Pipistrel Velis airframe, the Velis Electro is a trainer aircraft that is the centerpiece of the Velis Training System. The two-seater is fairly compact with a 35-ft (11-m) wingspan and a gross weight of 1,323 lb (600 kg). Its powerplant is a single Pipistrel E-811 electric aircraft engine running off two liquid-cooled 11-kWh lithium batteries, giving it a cruising speed of 100 mph (181 km/h) and a service ceiling of 12,000 ft (3,700 m),
Unfortunately, being battery powered, the Velis Electro has an endurance of only 50 minutes. This might be a problem if the aircraft was being used for general transport, but its electric propulsion system does give it some advantages as a trainer – not the least of which is its simplified user interface and fast acceleration from a standing start.
According to Pipistrel, the Velis Electro's electric propulsion boasts double the lifespan of conventional power trains and because it has fewer moving parts, it's easier and cheaper to maintain. In addition, it has an onboard health-monitoring system to reduce the chance of malfunctions, as does the liquid-cooling system that helps it to withstand battery thermal runaway events and crash loads.
"The type certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro is the first step towards the commercial use of electric aircraft, which is needed to make emission-free aviation feasible," says Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. 'It is considerably quieter than other airplanes and produces no combustion gases at all. It confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and airplanes is possible. The engine, which Pipistrel type certified separately, is also available to other aircraft OEMs. For Pipistrel, this achievement injects additional motivation for the future eVTOL and multi‑seat hydrogen-powered projects. Pipistrel is especially thankful to all our customers for their confidence in our products, which allows us to continue developing these innovative aircraft."
The first tranche of 31 Velis Electros is scheduled to be delivered to customers in seven different countries this year.