The argument for battery-powered light aircraft has received a boost after Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel’s all-electric Velis Electro was named as a joint winner of Plane & Pilot Magazine’s Plane of the Year award.
“If the future of aviation is electric, you’re looking at the future,” declared Plane & Pilot of the world’s first certificated all-electric plane, which earned EASA certification earlier this year and which has now entered production.
“Nothing about the Velis is accidental,” wrote Plane & Pilot. “Every bit of its design is geared toward making electric flight not only possible but also practical.
“With a two-hour endurance and a reasonable payload, similar to legacy two-seat trainers, the Velis is that practical training aircraft that comes close to making fuel costs go away.”
The two-seater aircraft intended primarily intended for pilot training boasts a 345 VDC electric system built around a liquid-cooled in-house developed high-performance battery system with a total nominal capacity of 24.8kWh.
Battery charging takes around 90 minutes from 35% to 95%, or around 2 hours for a full charge.
“Over the years Pipistrel has demonstrated the ability to produce high-quality, highly efficient light aircraft that push the state of the art in terms of low-noise, lower emissions and better fuel efficiency, all of which our industry will need to embrace for a cleaner, quieter aviation world,” said Isabel Goyer, Editor in Chief, Plane & Pilot.
The Pipistrel Velis Electro won the award jointly with the Epic Aircraft E1000, a single turbo-prop which is not electric, as its name might suggest.
Ivo Boscarol, GM of the Pipistrel group, noted that the first aircraft with a piston engine was type-certified in 1927, the first aircraft with a jet engine was type-certified in 1953, and after that, until 2020 when the first aircraft was type-certified with an electric engine, there were no major milestones in aviation propulsion.
“I am overjoyed that media understand the significance of this event,” he said. “This award not just gives a great international recognition to Pipistrel, but also enhances the credibility of Plane & Pilot – because it was the first magazine to recognize this achievement, and with the highest award, no less!”
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.