Pipistrel Velis Electro Secures UK Approval

The UK CAA has certificated the all-electric single-engine trainer.

Pipistrel now counts the U.K. as the next region in which it can fly its Velis Electro—the sole certificated all-electric, single-engine airplane in operation globally.

Textron eAviation announced this week that the aircraft had secured approval under the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (U.K. CAA) to add to the primary-category certification it had received from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in June 2020.

“Achieving type certification by the U.K. CAA is a big milestone for Pipistrel in the U.K., as well as within the wider aviation industry,” said Gabriel Massey, president and managing director at Pipistrel, in a statement from Textron eAviation. “The Velis Electro is now the only type-certified electric aircraft that can operate in the U.K., and this opens up a world of possibility for sustainable flight.”

Textron acquired the assets of Pipistrel in a deal that was announced on March 17. Prior to its merger with Textron Aviation, Pipistrel had delivered more than 2,500 light aircraft–including gliders and both electric and traditionally powered airplanes–since it was founded in 1989. The new business unit focused on electric and other sustainable technology development, Textron eAviation, was formed after the merger.

The U.K. distributor for Pipistrel—Fly About Aviation—was instrumental in shepherding the process. “For us, electric aviation is the beginning of the runway to cleaner skies and we are delighted with the recent approval of the Velis Electro by the U.K. CAA,” said Sergey Grachev, founder of Fly About Aviation. “We can now reach even more U.K. pilots and continue telling the story of sustainable aviation.”

Pipistrel Velis Electro
Pipistrel’s Velis Electro is the world’s first type certified electric airplane. [Courtesy: Right Rudder Aviation/Andrew Chan]

Hitting the Sustainability Target

The news comes ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow, running from July 18 through 22, and hosted in-person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The show traditionally takes place in Farnborough, England, every two years, alternating with the Paris Air Show. The Velis Electro will be on display there, along with Textron Aviation’s portfolio of single- and multiengine piston, turboprop, and jet airplanes from Cessna and Beechcraft, along with Bell Helicopter.

Sustainability will be a theme at Farnborough, and the Velis Electro makes an important step in the process towards decarbonizing general aviation—specifically flight training. FLYING flew the two-seat trainer at the Inverness Airport (KINF) in Florida in April with U.S. distributor Right Rudder Aviation’s Andy Chan to test its suitability to the learn-to-fly mission.

The initial take? That the normally achieved in-flight time of around 45 minutes plus VFR reserves can be sufficient for typical pattern work and pre-solo maneuvers. Taking it out on cross-country training flights—especially student solo XCs—is not yet in the cards, so it needs to be supplemented with a traditional piston-engined-aircraft for that part of the syllabus.

Approval under FAA auspices is still in the works—and we expect that updates to battery capacity and/or system configuration would be next in line for the model’s development.

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