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FAA grants exemption for Velis Electro

The FAA on March 1 granted Textron eAviation an exemption to allow the Velis Electro to be certified, operated, and maintained under a special airworthiness certificate in the light sport aircraft (LSA) category.

Photo by Chris Rose.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency-certified Velis Electro, built by Pipistrel in 2016, was the world’s first electric aircraft certified for flight training overseas and has been used across Europe and Australia since. Textron purchased Pipistrel in 2022 with the goal of bringing an electric-powered training platform to the United States. Current FAA rules require LSAs to have a reciprocating powerplant.

With this exemption, owners and operators of flight schools can use the Velis Electro in their flight training programs, offering a lower-cost, emission-free training platform that is quieter than traditional piston training aircraft. In the long term, using such aircraft may help airports in the battle over noise and lead pollution issues.

According to Textron, the Velis Electro benefits new, zero-time students by allowing them a cost-effective way to learn the basics of flying and aerodynamics, “while giving them early experience of next-generation power systems,” Rachel Douglass, senior manager of communications at Textron eAviation, said.

Because of the aircraft’s limited operational range of about 50 minutes with VFR reserves, it is best suited for pattern work or operations close to the airport, rather than cross-country flights.

Eventually students can move into more traditional and complex aircraft as they continue their training.

Textron is “eager to engage in more conversations about how the aircraft can benefit both flight organizations and aspiring pilots. Our team, alongside our U.S. distributors, will be conducting further outreach and engagement, and we will attend shows such as EAA Air Venture and SUN n FUN to socialize the aircraft’s new status,” Douglass said.

The exemption is limited to 350 Velis Electros starting with serial number 150.

Douglass said, “The aircraft range noted in the FAA exemption will support future deliveries coming off our existing and active production line. The sales will be coordinated through Pipistrel’s three U.S. distributors: Lincoln Park Aviation (based in the Northeastern United States), Lanier Flight Center (based in the Southeastern United States) and Elemental Aviation (based in the Western United States).”

The exemption requires Textron and Velis Electro owners and operators to maintain flight records of all operations that fall under the requirements of the exemption; provide safety, maintenance, and operational data at the request of the FAA; and report any loss-of-power incidents to Textron eAviation and the local flight standards district office within 24 hours of the event.

“Aircraft flight data can be easily downloaded from the aircraft and uploaded to a Pipistrel online portal,” Douglass explained. “This flight data process is followed by Velis Electros currently in operation, as it allows us to track usage and provide relevant information to regulatory authorities" such as EASA.

Pipistrel provides a maintenance training program specific to the Velis Electro that can be used to educate aircraft mechanics who may be unfamiliar with the platform; however, holders of repairman certificates are eligible to perform repairs, preventative maintenance, and alterations to the aircraft under FAR Part 65.

“The FAA exemption is an important milestone on the journey to sustainable flight. We are proud of our team and what we have achieved toward creating the future for electric and sustainable aviation, globally,” Douglass said.

Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Electric, Pipistrel

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