AJDOVŠČINA, SLOVENIA — After years of intensive research and several electric aircraft models developed since 2007, Pipistrel has won a Type Certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the battery-powered Velis Electro.
Conceived as a fundamental part of the Velis Training System, the Velis Electro was designed to be simple to operate and maintain, without compromising safety, according to company officials.
Employing Pipistrel’s type certified electric engine, the Velis Electro delivers power instantly, using a simplified user interface in a cockpit that maintains the same look and feel of its conventionally powered siblings. The reduced number of moving parts dramatically decreases maintenance costs and the risk of malfunctions is further minimized thanks to its built-in continuous health-monitoring system, company officials add.
This allows the Velis Electro to have more than double the lifespan of powertrain elements in comparison to the previous generation of electric airplanes, according to Pipistrel officials.
The powertrain is entirely liquid-cooled, including the batteries, and has demonstrated the ability to withstand faults, battery thermal runaway events, and crash loads as part of the certification process.
“The overall result of all these breakthrough innovations is a drastic reduction in the operating costs, significantly contributing to the affordability of pilot training,” company officials said.
“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. It is considerably quieter than other airplanes and produces no combustion gases at all,” said Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. “It confirms and provides optimism, 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,” he continued.
“For EASA, the type certification of this aircraft marks a significant dual milestone: On May 18, 2020, we type certified its engine as the first electric engine. Now we have followed up with the first type certification of a plane flying that engine. This was a truly ground-breaking project which has yielded many learnings for the future certification of electric engines and aircraft, undoubtedly a growth area in coming years in line with the aims of environmental protection.”
“It should also be noted that this innovative product was, despite the many challenging aspects, certified in less than three years, showing the excellent work performed by Pipistrel and the EASA teams,” he continued. “Finally, it is worth mentioning that the certification team was composed of EASA staff, but included experts from the Swiss and French authorities, in order to prepare and facilitate the entry into service of the Velis Electro in these two countries.”
Pipistrel will deliver the first 31 Velis Electro to customers in seven countries in 2020.
“AlpinAirPlanes GmbH is very proud to be given the great opportunity by Pipistrel to be part of this game-changing journey,” said Marc B. Corpataux, the launch customer for the Velis Electro. “With more than 400 flight hours and 25 pilots introduced to the predecessor Alpha Electro, we are convinced of the suitability of electric flight in the daily flight school environment. Initially, we will distribute 12 aircraft on 10 airfields over Switzerland. Each base will be equipped with 150 m2 of photovoltaic panels, producing electricity for 12,000 flight hours per year on the Velis Electro. We are happy to offer the most environmental friendly training possible.”
With more than 30 years of experience, Pipistrel has produced more than 2,200 aircraft. First to fly an electric two-seater in 2007 and the winner of the NASA Green Flight Challenge in 2011 with the world’s first electric four-seat airplane, Pipistrel has designed nine different experimental and serially produced electric aircraft. It has also developed propulsion systems, including batteries, power controllers, and electric motors for small and general aviation class of aircraft for NASA and Siemens, among others.
Pipistrel sells four electric aircraft models: The Taurus Electro, Alpha Electro, Alpha electro LC, and Velis Electro.