First Pilot Gets His Private License In An Electric Aircraft

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1st Lieutenant
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
From Avweb:

"For the first time in the U.S., a student pilot has earned a private pilot certificate using an electric aircraft.

Shane Fisher flew his check ride in a Pipistrel Velis Electro on March 6 at Right Rudder Aviaton's flight school at Florida's Inverness Airport (KINF). The two-seat trainer is the world's first electric-powered airplane to receive a type certificate. It was certificated by EASA in 2020, but in the U.S., it operates under light sport experimental aircraft rules.

He completed the cross-country requirements for his certificate in a Pipistrel Virus SW–with a similar airframe to the Velis, powered by a Rotax 912 engine. Fisher, of Ultimate Aviation, has since become a Pipistrel dealer, representing the brand in the Philadelphia area.

The Velis Electro—a single-powerplant aircraft aimed at the pilot training market—has an empty weight (with batteries) of 941 pounds (428 kg) and an maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 1,320 pounds (600 kg). Payload: 378 pounds (172 kg). Its maximum speed is 98 kcas. The airplane has a maximum endurance of 50 minutes, plus reserve, and a maximum recharging time of one to two hours. "

I say again: If I only had 50 min worth of gas in my Ercoupe I'd never leave the ground

I know a guy who works as a Road Ranger. One night he got called to charge the battery on an electric car. He replied that he was not equipped to do that.

I wonder if future air refueling aircraft will have a USB plug hanging out the back.
The jokes are very droll, but electric aircraft are clearly the way of the future for light training and general aviation aircraft.

At the moment, they're a little more expensive to buy than existing types, but as production volume increases and technology matures they'll become cheaper. They'll also be cheaper to own/operate and easier to maintain.

There's a market for nearly 100,000 light/GA aircraft in the US over the next 25 years. A major proportion of those - potentially better than a third - are going to be electric.

Textron - who own Cessna and Beech - bought Pipestrel at the end of April. That should tell you something about the way the market is going.
In some parts of Europe if you take your driving exam in an automatic transmission car your license restricts you from using manual transmission cars. Does this logic follow on electric aircraft, where you need no controls associated with an engine?
The only control that an electric aircraft doesn't have is the ignition. In reality, it's no different to modern FADEC equipped piston aircraft.
Ignition on, press start, and one lever to control the power.

We already have a differentiation of types based upon powerplant - Piston or Turbine, so its simply business as usual.
I'm not qualified, but how does the pilot control the ignition? I'd like to think that's automatic function of the EFI or carbs?
Typical aircraft piston engines have two ignition systems (for driving the spark plugs). The pilot is able to select #1, #2, or both. Normally you run on both, but you can isolate one system if there is a failure. In most GA aircraft, there is no timing adjustment.
EFI is only just making its way to GA, and is usually a part of the FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system, and as I understand it, is mainly found on diesel aero engines.
There is an outfit working on building an electric version of a Cessna Caravan. Now that is a SERIOUS airplane.

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