Velis Electro: the electric aircraft conquering the European sky

  •   22/06/2021 - 13h11
  •   DEHOUI Lionel

The new aircraft called Velis Electro is light and easy to handle. It is a two-seater electric aircraft that could soon start to appear in European skies. This aircraft is an innovation that is emerging at a time when the aviation world is undergoing a major transformation. The aeronautical sector is in a phase of mutation, seeking solutions to reduce its impact on the environment.

Velis Electro: the electric aircraft conquering the European sky

The only electric aircraft certified by EASA

The two-seater was built by Slovenian Pipistrel and is the only electric aircraft to have been certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), in June 2020. On the runway of the Brest Aero Club, this single-engine aircraft weighs only 428 kg (including batteries) and can take off without heating the engine.

On the runway, only its three propeller blades slam like a big fan. As soon as it is almost 300 meters above the ground and at a speed of 170 km/h, the noise of its blades merges with the air flow above the nacelle. Finistair pilot Damien Nicolle said the electric plane's discretion was very impressive and pleasant.

He bought one from Pipistrel and glued it to the Breton company Green Aerolease, in partnership with the Aéroclub de Brest. In the next three years, the company specializing in light aircraft rental should supply 200 aircraft in Europe.

 

A solution for reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation sector

The Danish military has already leased two of the aircraft, in order to complement its efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Charles Cabillic, founder of Green Aerolease, told a press conference that decarbonisation in the aviation industry is underway, at least in light aviation.

He added that the aviation industry still has a long way to go to reduce its impact on the environment. In this logic, it must reduce its carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

Moreover, electric propulsion is currently limited to small aircraft, in particular the future flying taxis in the skies over urban areas. As for airliners, the weight of the battery needed to store energy does not yet allow them to be included in the race.

 

A solution that is still unsuitable for airliners

Even assuming that they can store five times more energy per kilogram than they do today, the electrification of airliners is not yet possible. In principle, 170 tonnes of batteries are still needed to fly an A320 from Paris to Toulouse, which is more than twice its full take-off weight.

For small aircraft, hybrid electric propulsion is a development area. At certain stages of the flight, such as take-off, the electric motors provide additional energy to the combustion engines and the batteries are recharged during the flight.

In addition, the competitor VoltAéro has launched a hybrid electric demonstration aircraft capable of carrying up to 10 people. It is an aircraft that can fly for two and a half hours. The plane was presented in Brest by Jean Botti, the CEO of the company based near Royan. He hopes that his aircraft will be certified by the end of 2022.