With the certification of the Pipistrel Velis Electro, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued the first type certification for a purely electrically powered aircraft. The two-seater electric aircraft of the Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel is mainly intended for pilot training.
The EASA has specifically approved both the E-811-268MVLC electric motor developed by Pipistrel and the complete aircraft with this motor on board. According to EASA, the certification was completed in less than three years. This was only possible in this tight time frame thanks to close cooperation with Pipistrel. Both the authorities and the Slovenian manufacturer were concerned that the aircraft should meet the high safety standards required for certification. Now, the aircraft can now be used for flight training and other commercial and private uses throughout Europe.
EASA describes the project as a milestone that has produced important findings for the future certification of electrically powered engines and aircraft. EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said: “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”.
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The Velis Electro is based on the cell of the two-seater Virus SW 121, which is why its internal model designation is also Virus SW 128. The machine is 6.5 metres long and has an empty weight of 428 kilos including battery. The electric motor on board delivers up to 57.6 kW for a short time during take-off and a maximum of 49.2 kW during the flight. The payload is 172 kilos, the maximum flight altitude is 12,000 feet. The two batteries with a nominal voltage of 345 volts each have a capacity of 11 kWh, which should allow airtime of “up to 50 minutes plus reserve”. The Slovenian manufacturer had already undertaken the first test flights with its production-ready model in Australia at the beginning of 2018. Further test flights in Norway and Finland followed in summer 2018.
The drive of the Velis Electro and the battery are liquid-cooled. In the approval procedure, the system had to withstand malfunctions, overheating and mechanical stress. “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 confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the Type Certificate of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible.” The powertrain, which was certified separately, is also available to other OEMs.
It is already certain that Pipistrel will deliver the first 31 units of Velis Electro to customers in seven countries before the end of the year. The Swiss company AlpinAirPlanes will take delivery of twelve aircraft alone.
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