Pipistrel (now a Textron company) is upending the training aircraft market. The firm’s Velis Electro, its flagship electric aircraft, is being certified with aviation regulatory agencies and has entered service in 13 countries, including the US, on an experimental airworthiness certificate.
Gabriel Massey, President and Managing Director at Pipistrel, added context to his company’s advancements in the aircraft flight training market. The Pipistrel leader noted his company has worked with EASA, as well as national aviation authorities, to develop a training syllabus that permits students to begin their training on the Velis Electro and then continue on conventionally powered aircraft. “Further to this, a short conversion program (less than 1 hour) was developed for any already licensed pilot to fly the Velis Electro,” he added.
“Pipistrel also offers an online training tool which presents the features of electric flight. Given that the aircraft is type-certified, its operation intentionally does not differ significantly from flying any other small general aviation type,” Massey said.
Asked about the Velis Electro’s operating costs and other life-cycle considerations when compared to legacy-era training aircraft found at ATOs, the executive told CAT, “The Velis Electro costs roughly $50 per hour to operate, making it one of the most cost-effective training aircraft available on the market today. Compared to traditional ATO rental costs, the cost savings provided by the Velis Electro are significant, allowing flight training to become more inclusive and accessible for aspiring pilots.”
This aircraft operates with significantly reduced noise levels (60 dB) when compared to a typical conventionally powered trainer and is reported to be “effectively inaudible at 500ft [152m] above the ground. Further, it requires no warm-up time on the ground and can deliver power instantly.”
In another part of the Velis Electro lifecycle, Massey first pointed out the aircraft “requires minimal maintenance – that which is required is focused on the airframe,” and added that in regard to battery maintenance, no periodic checks are required in its time between overhauls and the whole powertrain self-checks prior to each flight. “
A full datalog is available for the Velis Electro operators via a USB download, where operators can then make use of Pipistrel’s Electro Cloud data analysis tool (web-based) to present the data in a graphical format.
The Pipistrel leader explained that during the next 12 months, his company will be “committed to fostering innovation to develop our aircraft and services. The Velis Electro uses the latest technology, and we will continue to build upon this with new features and improvements, enhancing our customers’ flight experience.”
The recent, prescient CAT article on the increasing investments in hybrid- and electric-powered fixed wing aircraft – and the implications for the training community training foreshadowed a flurry of recent announcements about developments in this sector.
In one significant development in the adjacent eVTOL sector, CAE’s customer list continues to expand. During the 2022 Farnborough Air Show it was announced CAE will be the exclusive pilot training provider for Vertical Aerospace’s launch eVTOL aircraft, the VX4.
- CAE Launches Electric Aircraft Modification Program with Piper
- First Company to Receive Design & Production Cert for Electric Propulsion