The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified Pipistrel's battery-powered Velis Electro trainer, the Slovenian manufacturer announced yesterday.
The Velis Electro becomes the first type-certfifed aircraft in the world to be powered by electricity, operating on a 345VDC system that uses two batteries connected in parallel configuration.
Pipistrel says the drive system produces no gases at all and emits only 60 db of noise.
"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," said Pipistrel Aircraft founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol. "It is considerably quieter than other aeroplanes and produces no combustion gases at all.
"It confirms and provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that [type certification] of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible."
Pipistrel expects to deliver 31 Velis Electros to customers in seven countries by the end of this year, with Swiss distributor AlpinAirPlanes GmbH taking 12. AlpinAirPlanes' Marc Corpataux said the aircraft would be spread widely throughout Switzerland.
"With more than 400 flight hours and 25 pilots introduced to the predecessor Alpha Electro, we are convinced of the suitability of electric flight in the daily flight school environment.
"Initially we will distribute 12 aircraft on 10 airfields over Switzerland. Each base will be equipped with 150 m2 of photovoltaic panels producing electricity for 12,000 flight hours per year on the Velis Electro. We are happy to offer the most environmentally friendly training possible."
Pipistrel's E-811 engine produces 57.6 kW of maximum take-off power and drives a three-blade fixed-pitch prop on the Velis Electro. The aircraft has an MTOW of 600 kg, a BEW of 428 kg, a cruise speed of 90 KCAS at 35 kW and an endurance of 50 mins plus VFR reserve.
Dominic Roland, head of EASA's general aviation department said issuing the TC for the Velis Electro was a significant moment for EASA as well.
"The 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."