EU aviation wonks give all-electric training aeroplane the green light – but noob pilots only have 50 mins before they have to land it

So don't expect to go very far


The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified its first all-electric aeroplane for routine use, marking a small but significant step on the route to all-electric airliners.

"This is an exciting breakthrough," said EASA executive director Patrick Ky in a canned statement as he boasted about the Pipistrel Velis Electro gaining its type approval from his agency.

A two-seater "intended primarily for pilot training," the Velis Electro is a development of Pipistrel's existing (and unfortunately named) Virus aeroplane, which features a piston engine instead of an electric motor.

Over three years the Slovenian airframer tested both the aeroplane itself and its novel electric motor and battery arrangement. In cockpit terms the instruments and controls provided to the pilot closely resemble those of conventional aeroplanes.

Pipistrel's Velis Electro cockpit. Press pic

Click to enlarge

Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft, gushed: "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 aeroplanes and produces no combustion gases at all."

Thirty aircraft have so far been pre-ordered.

One potential problem with the Velis Electro is its short endurance of 50 minutes from a designed battery capacity of 24.8kWh; this compares unfavourably with aged (in some cases 40-year-old) Pipers and Cessnas which currently dominate the basic flying training sector, whose endurance is measured in hours.

"The revolutionary powertrain is entirely liquid-cooled, including the batteries, and demonstrated the ability to withstand faults, battery thermal runaway events, and crash loads as part of the certification process," said Pipstrel in a statement.

Its point about crash loads is significant. Perhaps the closest comparator to the Velis Electro is Tesla's Model S, which suffered a few headline-grabbing battery fires over the years. With the Velis Electro having passed newly devised certification tests for its electrical supply, one hopes a potential crash involving one won't pose problems similar to those faced by firefighters tackling Tesla crashes.

On the flip side, the electric motor doesn't need warming up like a piston engine, increasing the amount of time the Velis Electro can be used for actual flying instead of sitting on the ground waiting for the oil temperature needle to inch its way into the green sector.

Conspicuously absent from the publicity material is mention of the charging time for the Velis Electro, although there is quite a bit of detail about the battery and cooling arrangement on the company website. One battery pack is mounted between the motor and the instrument panel with the other being behind the pilots' seats.

If one pack malfunctions, it drops out of the motor circuit; either can keep the aircraft airborne on its own, with Pipistrel stating that climbing to higher altitudes is still possible in the event of one pack failing.

Flight testing and the certification itself was carried out by French and Swiss aviation authorities who signed it off to EASA standards. The liquid-cooled battery and 76hp motor arrangement from the Velis Electro is said to be available to other manufacturers as a drop-in unit, having been separately certified from the airframe in May.

Meanwhile, in the UK, an all-electric airliner engine's planned test regime was cancelled earlier this year. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022