Pipistrel Velis Electro Completes Record Flights


The recently certified Pipistrel Velis Electro has completed flights intended to set records for electric aircraft. Between the end of August and Sept. 2, Pipistrel says that “five world records tumbled the combustion aircraft: your aircraft used less than a quarter of the energy for the route than conventional planes.” Due to the lack of infrastructure, the flights required two ground crews in electric cars that “had to drive two chargers in a rabbit and hedgehog game in front of the plane,” the company said. “The aircraft flies at about 120-150 KM/H in a straight line, the cars have to adapt to the road conditions. Meticulous planning was necessary to minimize waiting times when loading.”

The total distance flown for the record flights, the data for which has been submitted to the FAI for validation, was 523 MI or 839 KM. 

According to Pipistrel, the following records have been set. 

Lowest energy consumption (kWh / 100 KM): Using a claimed 190.963 kWh of electrical energy, the Velis averaged “22.76 kWh / 100 KM, which corresponds to 2.33 [liters of] diesel (energy equivalent diesel: 9.75 kWh / l)…calculated over the entire distance, the Pipistrel Velis consumed the energy equivalent of 19.58 liters of diesel!” Pipistrel says this performance “puts the aircraft in the range of a Tesla Model S, making it a new benchmark in aviation. Comparable aircraft with internal combustion engines would consume about 4x to 5x more energy.”

Highest average speed over 700 KM (KM/H): The Velis averaged 125 KM/H (77 MPH) over 738 KM (459 MI). The team also believes it set a speed record over 100 KM distance of 136 KM/H (85 MPH). 

The Velis also supposedly set records for the “longest electrically flown route,” 327 KM (203 MI) over 24 hours, 608 KM (377 MI) over 48 hours, and 839 KM (523 MI) over 56 hours. The team was planning to conquer climb-rate and absolute altitude records for electric aircraft but the weather did not cooperate. 

“Electric flying is still limited in range today and so a lot of logistical effort had to be accepted for this long-haul flight,” the team said in a statement. “However, the aircraft was not originally intended for such a use: The Velis is a training aircraft for training pilots close to the airport, and it is ideally suited for this: practically inaudible, locally emission-free and cost-reduced.” 

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Hint: it’s the 21st-century and 77 miles an hour is not fast NOR is having a 2 car chase crew reasonable. All this does is does is underscore just how bad electric power for aviation actually is.

    • I was about to say the same. If you take into account the energy use of the supporting crew, cars etc. its even worse than a normal aircraft. Electric flying is not _still_ limited in range, it _will be_ limited in range due to inherent limitations in battery physics.

      • True, but Pipistrel emphasised that the aircraft was not originally intended for such a use: The Velis is a training aircraft for training pilots close to the airport, and it is ideally suited for this: practically inaudible, locally emission-free and cost-reduced.

        I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating: a good number of training schools are purchasing the aircraft.

      • “Electric flying is not _still_ limited in range, it _will be_ limited in range ”
        Reminds me of this:
        “I can state flatly that heavier than air flying machines are impossible.”
        — Lord Kelvin, 1895
        I have a colleague who crosses Europe regularly with his Tesla. Electric cars are approaching 700-800 km range per charge. They evolved from restricted specialty vehicles to totally useful replacements of old technology in about 20 years.
        What aviation needs is a supporting infrastructure and a plane designed for long-range flying, but as with cars, you have to start from the best-suited specialty application. Exactly what Pipistrel has done.
        Energy density of Li-Ion batteries is still about 1/10th of Jet A, but battery tech is under intensive R&D around the globe for obvious reasons. Airplane structure has plenty of space for batteries. So this is just a matter of time.
        Therefore, even if the first electric plane that was NOT designed to fly long-range did not cut it *by your terms*, it is rather silly to call the whole potential industry a dead-end.
        Pipistrel’s attempt was a (good) publicity stunt, plain and simple. Kudos for them, and I hope they sell enough to create a four-seater touring plane soon.

        • Airplanes may have the space for batteries, but not the capacity to hold batteries for an 800 nm flight whilst carrying 800 lbs. of people and baggage. I don’t believe that we’ll creep up on battery technology that will work; I think that there will be a quantum leap, and hopefully before I’m dead.

      • Please explain these “inherent limitations in battery physics.”

        I didn’t know it the limitations had been found.

        • A gallon of avgas has about 115,000 btu, or 33.8 kWhr of energy. With an aircraft engine being 30 % efficient, it results in 10 kWhr per gallon equivalent.
          So, for an aircraft with 50 gallon tanks, an electric aircraft would need a 500 kWhr battery….way too heavy , the a/c would not be able to fly.

        • It’s not range; it’s ENDURANCE.

          One hour (plus a 30-minute-daytime/45-minute-nighttime reserve) will suffice for a typical traffic pattern lesson. BUT the duty cycle in the pattern is weighted toward takeoff-and-climb, which puts maximum load on the batteries.

          A flight to the practice area, with airwork, and return? Maybe 90 minutes? Plus that pesky reserve.

          A student cross-country flight (dual OR solo)? Fuggetaboutit.

          If I were running a large flight school again, I’d spend my money on some versatile, useful airplanes AND a really good simulator or two.

          Battery energy density WILL improve over time. But as Wimpy famously said: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.”

    • This guy literally does not understand what research and development is… even when it is like literally SHOWN to him, in writing.

        • This guy literally does not understand what research and development is… even when it is like literally SHOWN to him, in writing.

          • They have been researching electric batteries for over 200 years; electric vehicles for over 150 years. It’s not “new” or revolutionary. It’s a business that is still eclipsed by better means.

  2. Because of the similarities with another concomitant thread I copies my response here to share my thoughts:

    It’s not that I hate electric planes, or that I think my 1930’s era O-360 is such a fantastic instrument of engineering.

    To be honest some of my comments are from me generalizing my distaste for EV owners and advocates, Tesla owners in particular. I detest their holier than though ‘I’m saving the planet’ attitude and their disdain for the things that I enjoy. Like my motorcycle, twin turbo V8 Benz, and of course my lead spewing Maule.

    I am opposed to their desire to crush our values and economy in the pursuit for global warming, which concerns me not at all.

    I agree that the problem of EVs taking over is inevitable. It’s what governments are forcing us into. I also agree that there are advantages which are significant, BUT the problem of very poor energy density, expense, and weight MUST be overcome before battery powered EVs are practical or desirable for people like myself who are motor-sport enthusiasts.

    An electric toaster is a good idea. I prefer my vehicles to be more interesting however.

    Mostly I detest the attitude and politics of the EV intelligentsia.

    • “I am opposed to their desire to crush our values and economy in the pursuit for global warming, which concerns me not at all.”

      Great attitude. Now watch the West Coast burn and follow a record number of incoming hurricanes, both crushing your “values and economy” by billions of dollars.

      “I prefer my vehicles to be more interesting however.”

      Pushing the pedal to the metal in a Tesla and hitting 100 km/h in less than four seconds while you can comment about it to your co-travellers without even rising your voice is not “interesting”?

      • “ It is the pursuit against global warming. (Sorry, can’t help being intelligent).”

        Since co2 only minimally influences global warming and people only contribute 2% to co2 and aviation is only 2% of that 2% and prop planes are a tiny fraction of that 2% of the 2%; Therefore, REASONABLE people know that a few electric trainers are unmeasurable and thus irrelevant if that was the goal.

        • “and people only contribute 2%”

          CO2 plots over time have SKYROCKETED at the start of the industrial age. Any graph shows it. Your 2% quote is self-deluding fantasy.

          • Not skyrocketed, It went from 280ppm to about 400ppm. Biggest cause of the co2 increase was natural warming after a cold period that released dissolved co2. Look up the Ksp in your CRC to see how temperature drives co2.

        • “Aviation is only 2% of that 2% and prop planes”

          Logical fallacy.
          PINK PICKUP TRUCKS also contribute to a small percentage of global warming. So if you buy a PINK PICKUP TRUCK, your pollution doesn’t matter!

          That is LITERALLY your logic.

          Whether the pollution comes from a car, a plane, a prop, or a jet makes no more difference than the color of your car. What matters is how much pollution each of the 8 billion people on this Earth make.

          • First you have to assume that burning coal, natural gas and burning renewables to make electricity will no longer exists in order to say that electric trainers will Reduce Anything; much less affect global climate.

    • You want to be careful there William. I own two Tesla’s and not because I’m a tree hugging save the earth at all cost kind of guy. I never have been nor ever will be. I also own several twin engine aircraft that suck up on average 35 gph each engine (IO 540 K1J5’s) along with a 2004 police Electra glide that sports a gas guzzling S&S 124. I like horsepower.
      That being said, I never intended, ever, of owning a Tesla. I was a lot like you with all of the same reasoning. It was my A&P who kept on harping on the virtues of Tesla that finally drove me to a show room that just happens to be a few miles from my house. I went there purely out of curiosity and nothing else much less with the intent of purchasing not just one but two Tesla’s. All I can say is my eyes were opened.
      Without getting into a whole lot of detail because there is just to much, driving a Tesla is a whole different way of transportation. It is nothing short of astounding. It’s like driving an IPad. I wake up every morning with a full tank of mileage. My wife and I never have to go to a gas station again, the joy of which is sometimes not immediately recognized. Think about the next time you stop for a fill up in both the winter and summer depending on where you live. Long distance driving is a non issue. Tesla has over 16,000 super stations (And more being built) strategically placed nationwide. It takes all of 30 minutes to full charge with well over 350 miles worth of range. As far as performance is concerned, here’s the eye opener. Literally every model Tesla will blow the ever loving doors off of any similar gas vehicle. A similar gas vehicle doesn’t stand a chance. The Tesla service is incredible. Again, a totally different experience than what you, or, I was accustomed to with gas cars.
      Do what I did William. Find a Tesla showroom near you and go into it full of skepticism. At the very least I think you will walk out with a totally different opinion of Tesla. As for other EV’s, they don’t hold a candle to Tesla. Elon Musk is a genius and he hires like people.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful reply Tom. I would like to continue our discourse.

        I have driven two Teslas. A Model S and a Model 3 Performance. I know what they are like to drive. In some ways they are excellent cars.

        I can’t get past the looks of the Model 3. The poor thing is an abortion. The Model X is worse. Ditto the Model Y. It also rode poorly (I drive an S Class Benz so I’m biased) and had poor panel alignment, a rattle in the driver’s door, and a squeak in the dashboard. The seats were comfortable but of a poor quality plastic material. The dashboard was conspicuously absent and it had the panache of a 1980’s Hyundai. It would have been a compelling $40,000 car but it was around $60,000. I forget exactly.

        The Model S, I have to admit, is a fairly good looking car, and rode well and had good acceleration but was WAY too heavy and handled ponderously with excessive tire scrub. The interior would have been acceptable in a $50,000 car, but no way was it a $75,000 interior. That’s getting into Mercedes money and I expect much more. Still it had paint defects, but this example had no squeaks or rattles.

        My conclusion is that Teslas, as cars, are good. Excellent in some ways, but the money they ask is criminal for the quality, appearance, fit, and finish.

        As far as Musk goes, if I have never met him, but from what I gather I can’t tolerate him. I consider him a monomaniacal narcissist. If he did not run Tesla, I’d have a higher opinion of the brand.

        When MB or one of the other high end manufacturers comes out with their more highly developed product, I would consider it.

        It’s not electric cars I detest, its Elon and his fanboys that kill me.

      • I drove a P85D extensively and enjoyed it. However, the owner never drove it outside of suburban Chicago. He regarded it as strictly a city car. Even now, no Tesla can match the overall capability of a gas car. Someone referred to 16,000 charging stations?? Who cares? It’s like saying there are one million gas pumps. For travelers, its the individual stations that count. In fact there are about 800 Tesla superchargers in the US. That compares to about 122,000 gas stations. Gas cars have more range to begin. There are many regions in the US where a Tesla is quite impractical. Gas cars and aircraft function from Barrow Alaska to Key West and all points between.

        Cold weather? I recall much of my training took place in winter. How does that affect a Tesla? If you are honest you know a Tesla battery does not charge below 32F. Honest Tesla owners and videos point out Tesla’s can lose 30 – 50% of their range on very cold days. Where would that leave this aircraft? In fact, Tesla’s are best tethered to an electric source on cold nights. How many Cessna’s and Piper’s have to be plugged in at night?

        Can’t imagine an electric plane with half the range gone before take-off. Bingo fuel before leaving the ground? So where is this new electric plane going to see service? California and temperate climates only? As you know the standard atmosphere temp lapse rate is 3 degrees per 1,000 feet. Gas planes become more powerful at cold temps. Electric planes will be losing range quickly. How many planes fly in cold weather?

        I think it is likely aircraft will be powered by electric motors. But probably not with Li-Ion batteries.

      • Does each of your IO 540 series engines consume 35 gallons per hour? I suspect it’s closer to the combined cruise consumption, at about 75 percent power, according to the Operator’s Handbook.

    • “I am opposed to their desire to crush our values and economy ”

      Says the guy that gets his cars from Germany, while Teslas are made in Cali.

  3. Electric vehicles are not emission free. They consume energy that was mostly produced by burning fossil fuel. The electric generation, transmission and distribution system all result in great losses of energy. Thus the actual total efficiency of electric vehicles is no where near that achieved by the vehicle during a flight.
    Once we get to a totally emission free electric grid that is as reliable as the present system, then EV are only moving the emissions from the vehicle to the power plant.
    It is nice to see continuing research on EV but disappointing that the true efficiency is being ignored.

    • “Electric vehicles are not emission free. They consume energy that was mostly produced by burning fossil fuel. The electric generation, transmission and distribution system all result in great losses of energy.”

      It’s good that crude oil residing in the grounds of Saudi-Arabia turns itself into easily available Jet-A at the airport apron without consuming practically any energy at all in the process…

      Germany has already had days during which 100% of grid power has been provided by renewal sources. EU is debating a “100% by 2050”-plan. China has figured out that choking its citizens with coal is not a good idea and is working hard to increase its current ~30% renewable share.

      Of course there are outliers like the USA, still hovering below 20%, and certainly remaining stuck at those levels if Trump gets another four years, but maybe that is why electric planes are not being developed there?

  4. John, my allusion was not a typo.

    Before you or anyone questions my intelligence, I have my BS and medical degrees from Rutgers. I completed my post doctorate training at Yale. I specialize in internal medicine and advanced diagnosis. I taught medicine at Yale before practicing at Stanford. I am now in a leadership position at the biggest health care system in southeastern Washington State. Anyone who questions my resume can PM me and I’ll share my name so they can google it and confirm my statement.

    How does your curriculum vitae compare?

    Now that we are past that many scientists share my views on global warming but the government(s) don’t fund their research so they are not on CNN every night.

    With that said I’m not here to debate global warming. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t care. I’m off this rock in 30-40 years.

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnSQMiMzdoY

    I have no credentials from academia. I have been a hot rodder for most of my adult like. I have always owned and driven some sort of performance car or truck. I have built a couple of airplanes, am a Private Pilot, aircraft owner, with a current A&P license. I know everything about nothing, and nothing about everything.

    Over time, I have been able to prove, and now so can almost every modern car manufacturer, that a high horsepower, fossil fuel powered gas or diesel combustion engine can be ( and has to be) very efficient, clean burning, meeting all or even some future emission requirement. I did not anticipate, when I graduated high school in 1970, that the average car available to the average consumer in 2020 would be capable of spanking just about very legendary performance car built up to that time ( meaning 1970). Now, you can buy a 797hp family sedan, that gets 21-24 mpg highway, with a governed 203 mph top speed, meet all emission standards, run the ¼ mile in under 11 seconds at 125-130mph, with a warranty, running on pump gas, have the ability to stop quickly from 200+mph or regular stop and go traffic, and all the creature comforts possible, being used as a daily driver. Likewise, you can spend the same money and buy an electric car that will perform very similar.

    Dragweek is a grueling test of street performance meaning the ability to run in all sorts of climates and associated weather conditions on the average highway, interstate, and two lane road, in traffic, with a street legal, properly tagged, licensed automobile, drive 200 miles with no additional support equipment other than what can contained and be towed in a small trailer by that participating performance car for the entire trip. No sponsored semi with a 53 foot rolling shop and a team of expert pit crews to fix the car between rounds. Every day is a 200 mile drive (driven by the competitor/participant) to four different drag strips, with minimal prep time. Each day at the track, you run not against another car for bragging rights, but an elapsed time slip that is added up over the course of the entire week. The fastest four accumulated time slips is the ultimate winner. You can make as many passes possible within a daily time window to for your fastest daily time. Several hundred cars ranging from 1914 to modern, new cars participate. Reliability, consistency, adapting to ever changing weather, and all out tenacity in overcoming mechanical, physiological, and psychological challenges flushes out the tops in current technology in a very practical, measurable, quantifying way. This is an absolutely grueling week for both man and machine.

    I see Pipestrel, the company, its attitude, and its accomplishments ( which always includes various failures enroute to the victories) with the same fascination, admiration, and smiles I feel kinship with those who participate in Dragweek. It is very inspiring. So, I offer many kudos to Pipistrel and their pioneering efforts.

    It is hard to separate the participants in Dragweek from those who are die hard designers/builders in the EAA, and what I see demonstrated by Pipestrel. I do know several Dragweek participants are aircraft owners, builders/restores, EAA members, and accomplished pilots. No surprise there. While the sound quality is poor, pay particular attention to the knowledge, details, and engineering mind of the Tesla owner. This guy is sharp, yet a realist.

    Someone has to be first, someone has to take the initial risks, and suffer through the inevitable criticisms to move anything of value forward.

    I have offered three links about the Tesla entered in Dragweek. Please take off your stereotypical glasses before viewing. Those glasses have a way of distorting reality. Consider both sides of the successes you will see demonstrated. Take the time to find out how far Yankee ingenuity, backyard yet very professional investments in time, money, and personal knowledge has advanced the technology of both gas and electric well beyond what you think you know about via CNN, NBC, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, etc. Also realize there are quantum leaps of technology improvements in both sides of this issue that are not only astounding but both are making equal improvements in their respective efforts affecting changes to the climate. And both are making their respective mark in contributing to the decay of the planet. There is no free lunch for any of the parties. And there is a learning curve throughout. In my opinion, there is a place at the table for both. This includes all aspects of aviation as well as daily drivers.

    There is a lot to learn about this debate from those participants in Dragweek as well as Pipestrel’s efforts. How about opening our minds about the progress and potential? In any worthwhile endeavor there are setbacks, unanticipated problems. But it’s okay to fail. Because that is the only way we collectively win.

  6. The fact that a Tesla can win a drag race does not interest me. My Ducati can beat the Tesla but that’s not the point.

    My 500 HP Mercedes is plenty fast and much more engaging.

    Also, like I said, I’m not against electric cars so much as I am against Tesla, their ownership cohort, and their leadership and philosophy.

    When a major high end manufacturer produces competitively priced high quality long range electric cars I would consider one and probably buy it. Maybe the Mercedes EQS or the Lucid, but I expect both will be well out of my price range. My plan is to savor my twin turbo V8 until Mercedes is on their second generation EV and maybe get one of those.

    I do not like oil leaks or expensive maintenance that an EV does not require, but the negative stigma and qualities of the Tesla corporation are a strict no-go for me, and MANY enthusiasts like me.

    Buying gas does not bother me, it’s pretty cheap and available everywhere. Plus I don’t have to budget for an expensive battery replacement as EV owners have to consider.

    • “Plus I don’t have to budget for an expensive battery replacement as EV owners have to consider”
      That fact that you, personally, are poor does not invalidate the benefit of fast, quiet, zero-emissions travel.

    • “Buying gas does not bother me, it’s pretty cheap”
      You care about what’s cheap… not the air we breathe, or the damage we do to the earth.
      Why care if you car is a fart-mobile? The farts always go BEHIND you!

    • My post was not an advertisement for Tesla nor drag racing. It was not posted intending to compare virtues or comfort levels of a Tesla vs Mercedes, gas vs electric, build quality, aviation range, electric aircraft payload abilities, or whether a Mercedes owner or Tesla owner are politically correct. I am glad there are folks who can afford all of these cars, motorcycles, airplanes, twin or single, and have options on which motorcycle they ride on Wednesday, whether it is a super-bike or cruiser.

      My intention was to show there are some really neat virtues of both side of this debate being developed, demonstrated, and tested in a real world environment. Dragweek is a great testimony showing the level of technology gleaned from exotic, well funded manufacturers, as well as those making cars for the masses, being tuned up, and performance massaged, improved upon by hundreds if not thousands of Americans. Plus adding new technology being vetted under challenging circumstances for reliability, performance, and engineering excellence.

      A lot of technology gleaned form folks like this are finding their way into aviation.

      Pipestrel is walking the walk vs the standard aviation fare of press releases of artist renderings, being funded by hope, charisma , and often some sort of visionary…with ridiculous statements/promises of certification and first round delivery dates anyone in aviation knows with well deserved skepticism, ” that ain’t happening”.

      As we say at the track, “no b—s, no blue chips”. Pipestrel has some b—s, and are reaping blue chips, in a market they created, and are now filling. Maybe it’s no Autoland plastic, turbine powered Razzamatazz 600, but they are demonstrating front and center their commitment making electric airplanes a sensible, viable product that well be a benefit for flight schools and flight training.

      Got to hand it to them for going after a few records which to me is displaying real marketing savvy. I think that 10 second Tesla owner just might be interested in a Pipestrel Velis Electro along with a few other hybrid and electric owner/drivers that probably don’t yet know there is an aviation counterpart to what they are currently driving.

      In the meantime, I am happy with a 67 year old Bonanza, which is not depositing lead within the atmosphere, sharing the same fuel with our now 42 year old 375+hp , carburated, cammed , Chrysler 318 V8 powered 78 Dodge D-100, and enjoying the best of what today’s technology can add to old technology, and making both the truck and airplane remarkably “green” in today’s environment. At the same time, I can appreciate the efforts of those who are pushing the known envelope, and sticking their necks out, in a sound bite society, knowing whatever they do will invite all sorts of comments fueled by keyboard courage, even well informed critics, and everybody in between who has an opinion.

      But the vast majority of folks are not buying, building, and test flying anything outside their comfort zone. That’s okay. Nothing wrong with waiting for the market to shake out and the inevitable improvements that come. But for that kind of reliability born out of traditional expectations requires someone, sometime, to stick out their necks, pocketbooks, and reputations on the line to do something few if anybody has done. No b—s, no blue chips.

  7. For those with an eversion to Tesla, may I suggest the Lucid Air (which, as a bonus, will also run your house in a power cut). https://www.lucidmotors.com/air/

    If you want a more practical electric aircraft (dirt cheap to run, no power reduction with altitude, no noise abatement or CO monitor required) the wait for lighter, more power-dense batteries is getting shorter. https://oxisenergy.com/applications/

    I happen to have kids who I hope will still have a habitable planet when I’m gone. It’s looking doubtful but I’ll do what I can.

    • Planting and tending and harvesting and fermenting and distilling and transpiring and BURNING the finished product to make electricity all produce emissions. Renewable puts out at least the same emissions, maybe more depending what’s involved on the front end.

  8. 17 September 2020
    So, my 1100 mile commute between Los Angeles and Seattle seems luxurious by all the standards quoted here. In a $500. Volkswagen Beetle, circa 1966, and paid for, that gets 28 mpg on a bad day, I go 700 to 800 miles per day for an overall cost of less than $160. one way. Burning regular fuel, periodic refueling takes no more than 15 minutes at a time. The smile factor inherent in cheating the wind in an old car that has the drag coefficient of a wet dog notwithstanding, whilst enjoying the countryside at a leisurely and sane speed, is ample reason to eschew all those highway tickets like the Tesla S to the poorhouse. If I really want to go fast I can put the old Cessna 150 into a spiral and count rotations of cactus standing below my descent. I, too, have other cars and motorcycle choices at home, but buying the latest car for more cost than three of my first houses makes no sense at all.