EASA this week announced the world’s first full type certification for a fully electric aircraft, issuing approval for Pipistrel’s Velis Electro two-seat trainer. The type certificate follows the European agency’s earlier approval on May 18 of the E-811-268MVLC motor that powers the light single.
In a statement issued on June 10, EASA described the completion of the type certification process as “an exciting breakthrough” that will pave the way for approval of other electric aircraft, including the new generation eVTOL models now under development. “This is the first electric aircraft EASA has certified but it will certainly not be the last, as the aviation industry pursues new technologies to reduce noise and emissions to improve the sustainability of aviation,” said Patrick Ky, the agency’s executive director.
On May 25, EASA launched a consultation process for its proposed means of compliance for eVTOL aircraft seeking type certification under its Special Condition VTOL rules that were first published in July 2019. The comment process for these close on July 24.
According to Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Slovenia-based Pipistrel Aircraft, the certification of the Velis Electro is a key step forward in the commercial use of electric aircraft. “It provides optimism, also to other electric aircraft designers, that the type certification of electric engines and aeroplanes is possible.”
Pipistrel is working on an eVTOL aircraft designated as the 801, which is intended for air taxi operations as part of the Uber Elevate urban air mobility network. In May, the company confirmed that it has decided to prioritize the development of a new fixed-wing cargo aircraft based on the Velis Electro design and a 19-seat regional airliner called the Miniliner. It said that it expects eVTOL air taxi operations to take somewhat longer than planned to gain approval from authorities, and, consequently, now expects the 801 to enter service around 2028.