1. Everything is bass ackward. Is the vendors job to supply users with performance charts. Is the vendors job to meet FAR requirements.

    Lowering the safety margins just to be “electric” is not a good thing for students.

    • Pipistrel Velis SW128 is a supper Training Tool to train pilots, of cours only for the basic flighht technics.
      If compared with with a Cessan 152 it is a quantum leap better to develop the technics how to control an aircraft.
      I use it since more than one year, I trained 5 pilots from zeor to solo-flight in a fast progress.
      Following they flew with the old Pipier Cub (Tail-Wheel) after a few flights solo again.
      With this aircraft they learned basic navigation skills, this with the magnetic compass as the only navigation instrument. Modern navigation equipment traing and skill test conluded the PPL.
      Yes the Pipistrel Velis is not the final answer for the new generation aircraft, but a very usful tool to start by using new tehcnologies.
      I please herewith Yvo Boscarol (Founder of Pipistrel) to replace one Battery with a fluid cell and a 3 US Gal Synhelion tank, that’s a dream, not yet reality, but hopefuly soon.

  2. The original reasoning behind the Alpha Electro was just as Paul described: use the electric version as a cheap trainer in the pattern and use the avgas-powered version for all other training tasks. The times quoted back then were 1 hour of useful flying with a 30 minute reserve still left in the batteries. I do not know what changed to shave this down to the useful endurance quoted in the video. With an hour to play with, the aircraft might just be on the useful side of the equation, but having just 24 minutes endurance puts it squarely in the technology demonstrator corner. It’s an interesting first step though.

    • If it is only used for circuit training then it is extremely obvious that the ’30 min reserve’ rule could be relaxed.

      You could also argue that electric aircraft could be required to have a shorter reserve, generally, than ICE’ed aircraft on the basis that the former vehicle’s drive trains are hugely less complex and therefore much less likely to fail (at least in a way that relates to reserve duration). Time will tell on that one but I can’t see why they would fair differently to road based EVs and all the signs there are that this is very true.

      Battery specific energy and energy density have both easily doubled in the 10 years or so that I have been involved in EVs. They would only have to double again to give electric aircraft at least half the range of an equivalent ICE’ed aircraft for the same weight and volume of ‘fuel tank’. I foresee that happening in less than 5 years given the rate of development of batteries now that Big Oil’s cat is thoroughly out of the bag.

      • Another interesting consideration is that Tesla (for instance) is already working on the notion of using the structure of a battery cell to provide the strength and form of the a main load-bearing portion of the vehicle (the floor in Tesla’s case). This idea could mean large portions of wings being batteries where the cells provide the strength and rigidity of the wing (a bit like the honeycomb structures already used for parts of aircraft wings).

      • Big Oil’s cat? What?

        I’m thinking the engineers working on batteries are not giving too much care towards what “Big Oil” (whoever you are referring to) might be doing. Might get bigger budgets due to higher oil prices, but I’d say Western governments have more input on battery tech R&D than civilian or state controlled oil companies and OPEC.

  3. This is the first serious electric airplane brought to market. It is close to fully developed and the only thing holding it back is battery density. Given the rapid progress in battery development as a result of the huge investments by car companies, I think it is safe to say that v2 will have a 1 hour endurance with a 30 minute reserve within 2 years and then it is absolutely a viable trainer.

    AVGAS at my home airport in Canada is $ 2.58 a litre. It is double that in most European countries so the economics are moving in electrics favour.

    However, especially in Europe, the draw is going to be its green footprint and very low external noise.

    • “Green footprint” … horsepucky !! All they’re doing is transferring the source of energy to some distant location which — oh by the way — has losses in the transmission process. While I concede that developing energy in a powerplant is more efficient than at the point of use (internal combustion engine), it is NOT a panacea. And, what / who is going to develop the recycling program for all the batteries everyone is touting as the savior of the planet?

      • For big batteries like these, no problem, they are being snapped up as house batteries as soon as they come out of EVs when their performance drops to 75% of new.
        With grid electricity prices shooting up, it is not just “off-the-grid” hippies or the world is going to end types who are doing it.
        Interestingly, at the other end I know two youngsters (early 30s) who are reasonably tech minded, and who in my day would have been playing with cars, but who now recover old smartphone batteries (you can apparently buy job lots off the web) and spend time wiring them together for power packs. One has a pack he moves from the washing machine to the TV or the kettle and so on. They have both had some hot moments when cells they thought were OK overheated, but have survived…

      • Larry —

        By paying my electricity provider (XCel Energy) $7/mo., I’m on an all-renewable plan; the electricity used by my 3 yr old Tesla 3, as well as my house, does not come from coal, oil or natural gas.

        You certainly raise valid questions about metal mining; just this past week a copper-nickle mine near my state’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area was canceled, but another nickel mine in a less sensitive area seems to be going ahead with funding from Tesla.

        One thing is certain, continuing to use fossil fuels as we have is changing the planet; I don’t want to pass this crisis on to my kids and grandkids any more than we must.



  4. The efficiency of the electric motor is impressive. The terrible energy density of the current battery technology is also impressive, but in a different way. As a technology demonstrator and a place to start this is an interesting aircraft. It’s nowhere near a practical aircraft in any other sense though. We need a leap forward in battery tech. When (if) that comes, Pipistrel will be nicely positioned.

  5. A 50 % increase in battery density is all this airplane needs. Given the pace of battery development I think that is realistic in the next 2 years.

    There is a downside thought. I can just see the crushed look on the face of the newly minted CPL as he sees the Chief Pilot of Mosquito Lake Air Services hand him back his resume with the comment, “Son, yah gots no piston time ! “

    • No one in the battery industry is saying that. Neither is anyone in the electric airplane industry, which isn’t exactly known for honest claims. Gains are pegged at 5 to 7 percent a year for existing chemistry. Pipistrel pack energy seems to be around 160 wh/kg and they are using very conservative chemistry for safety reasons.

      Cell-level density for an application like this may be practical at 300 wh/kg in two to three years. But that won’t be 50 percent at the pack level. Maybe 10 at the most. Bye Aerospace claims 300 at the pack level, which I’ll believe when I see.

      • Yep … Bye Aerospace promised me an electric drop in replacement power for my Skyhawk close to 10 years ago and I’m STILL waiting. Then again, Powerplant Developments / Superior was gonna have a whole family of 2 stroke diesels available, too … good thing I didn’t hold my breath!

        BTW: How many how many AA batteries does it take to provide 160wh/kg? 🙂

      • Thank you, Paul. People keep trying to apply Moore’s Law type improvements to battery capacity, but the reality of chemistry doesn’t follow the same progression as computers. Pipistrel is obviously taking a conservative approach to their battery packs, and I applaud them for that. Just ask Boeing about large-scale Li-ion power systems and their temperature stability. But they are already using liquid cooling for temperature control, so there isn’t much more they can do unless or until there is a significant jump in electricity storage beyond the incremental progression in lithium-based power cells.

  6. OMG…this is all so insane! Champion A/C must be shaking in their boots or laughing all the way to the bank about their worries of 50 minutes of flight time. When these rocket scientists get a clue and figure out that fuel cell is the only long term answer to new (and much better) choices all of anyone using any machine for transportation or enjoyment is futile.

    Thanks David Gagliardi…you nailed it!

    • Champion?

      There are two possibilities. Either the existing technology continues as does the existing sales environment; or, there is an innovation which allows for light aircraft to attract new clientele.

      If you love personal aviation, and you are cheering on fifty year old solutions, then you are loving personal aviation to death. I’m hoping for new stuff and the freedom of flying for future generations.

  7. The aircraft certainly has issues. I look at it as the Wright Flyer of electric aircraft. We can produce great electric motors and controllers, the limiting factor will be battery capacity v weight and volume. Battery research will make or brake the electric aircraft.

  8. Paul

    I think you are be being a bit pessimistic. I get that you see a lot of hype in your line of work but I think moving the Velis from 25 minutes of endurance plus 30 min reserve to 50 minutes of endurance plus reserve is doable. This will come with better cells but also with Pipistril optimization of the battery system. They are commendably taking a cautious approach and so as you noted in your presentation, leaving some juice on the table.

    50 minutes makes it a useful trainer, especially for Private Pilot students as I have found that after 50 minutes or so they start to fade and you get diminished value for the airtime.

    I stand by my contention that in 2 years this will be a viable training aircraft. One considerable challenge is the certification regime. At present Transport Canada and the FAA are certifying them by exempting them from all the propulsion regulations that don’t apply and issuing individual bespoke certificates. In the future a proper certification system needs to be created.

  9. Just like the early electric vehicles had horrific range and were way too costly for what they could offer electric planes will go through the same kind of development. I for one am grateful that companies like these take the pioneering risk, and I hope it will pay off for them just like it did for Tesla – look at how they kicked off a transformation of the car industry after all.

  10. I think it’s important to remember that in the US, this is truly a technology demonstrator. Without a LODA, the 91.151 endurance requirements hold, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn valuable lessons from the airframe. I don’t disagree with folks pointing out the limitations, but for the first production electric aircraft, the design is quite remarkable. However, for now, forget green, carbon footprint, cost, etc. The program at hand is about generating data to bring these technologies into mainstream, certifiable designs. Given the advances made from the Alpha Electro to the Velis Electro, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a significant increase in capability with the next iteration.

  11. I see a lot of cheering for the CONCEPT of this aircraft, but also acknowledgement that the aircraft is “Not ready for Prime Time.” Not one “cheerleader” asking “Where do I sign the order book?” The lack of sales is akin to the “sound of crickets chirping.”

    AJ Foyt nailed it–there is little difference between this and a composite electric-propelled motor glider–and they have been around for some time–but the long wings of a glider means that the electric-launched glider can stay up an appreciable amount of time–something this aircraft cannot do. This aircraft is notable in that it’s the “first certified electric airplane”–but with some caveats–it’s certified–but even the most die-hards on this board don’t call it “practical.” I don’t see long lines forming to sign purchase orders–this one was from a University–and they used a bequest to fund it, as it doesn’t make economic sense. The “fuel” is cheap-but the operating cost of the engine is far MORE than the cost of a piston engine–more than cancelling any fuel savings. (and then there is the matter of having to have a second aircraft–both for scheduling and to venture outside the local traffic pattern.)

    Don’t take it wrong–I love Pipistrel airplanes, I love their workmanship, and I love their innovation–but that doesn’t mean that this aircraft is ready for prime time–even the electric-oriented cheerleaders on here acknowledge that. I believe Pipistrel would be better off offering this as a kit, and letting builders fly it and modify it as they will, rather that subject it to restrictive (and some would say outdated) certification limits.)

    • Well put, Jim.

      Transposing PB’s excellent battery spec discussion in this blog over to UAS’, how the heck are those folks going to get any sort of usable battery life out of some air vehicle with multi-rotors that takes off akin to a helicopter before transitioning to level flight? Sure … they’re doing it but not over useful distances with a decent useful load. Some of the speed and range claims they make are borderline ridiculous. This Pipistrel is among the lightest and best built air frames but only has a 18 to 24 min useful time of flight … what it shows ME is that UAS’ have a LONG way to go before they’ll be useful for anything but proof positive that there is a lot of money out there looking for a place to be spent with little return. I’m starting an un un Pentium ore mine in South America… looking for investors.

  12. Pretty good report. In my opinion, Florida Tech is taking a conservative approach regarding compliance with §91.151. Unlike §91.167 which requires the pilot to “operate” with the stated IFR reserve, §91.151 only requires that the pilot “begin” the flight with the stated VFR reserve. It contains no guidance whatsoever regarding how the fuel should be used inflight.

  13. FLASH: In other important related news, the Biden Administration has cancelled two long standing (56 years) ground leases at the Twin Metals state-of-the-earth ground mine in NE Minnesota. According to the US Geological Survey, this “shovel ready mine” sits on the largest undeveloped deposits of nickel, cobalt and platinum group metals (PGM) in the world as well as copper. The cobalt so mined could be used in Lithium ion batteries, the nickel could be used in advanced battery storage technologies and the copper used in solar panels and windmills.

    “Shutting down projects in the U.S. will not shutter demand. The World Bank estimates that the production of battery minerals, including graphite, nickel and cobalt, could increase by 500 percent by 2050 to meet the growing demand for advanced energy technologies. Some estimates suggest the world will need to produce the same amount of copper in the next 25 years as humanity has produced in the last 5,000 to reach electrification goals.”

    OH … “canceling projects like the Twin Metals mine will be a boon to the foreign-sourced minerals market currently dominated by China. ” Silly me … I shoulda known …

    So much for the green ‘new’ deal! Hope the Pipistrel can find what elements it needs in China for this thing? WIll they have to reveal where the materials for their airplane comes from, I wonder? I hope they have enough chips for the power controllers, too?

    See: msn.com/en-us/news/us/twin-metals-mine-cancellation-is-a-gut-punch-to-us-steelworkers-gift-to-china/ar-AATvchb?