EASA certifies first fully electric plane in breakthrough move

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency announced it was the first regulator in the world to certify a fully electric aircraft, the Pipistrel Velis Electro.

“This is an exciting breakthrough,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky in a statement. “This is the first electric aircraft EASA has certified but it will certainly not be the last, as the aviation industry pursues new technologies to reduce noise and emissions and to improve the sustainability of aviation.”

The Velis Electro was designed by Pipistrel Aircraft, based in Slovenia. It is a two-seater trainer powered by the first electric motor in the world to be certified, the E-811-268MVLC, reviewed by EASA in May 2020. The electric engine of 57.6kW is fed by two battery packs of 24.8 kWh. The two-seater has an autonomy of 50 minutes, plus thirty minutes of reserve for a recharge time of 40 to 70 minutes. The plane can carry up to 600 kilograms. Unlike a conventional aircraft, the Velis Electro requires no warm-up time before take-off.

The certification of the aircraft was completed in less than three years. “The project also brought important learnings that will support future certifications of electrically powered engines and aircraft,” said the authority.

The company has an order book of 120 Velis Electro aircraft around the world. In 2020, it plans to deliver the first 31 Velis Electro to customers in 7 different countries.

“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,” said Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel Aircraft. “It provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the type certification of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible.”

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