The Current State of Electric Flight


It seems a content-creator has had a chance to try out a Pipistrel Velis:

I had a chance to review the Velis POH a few weeks ago and was looking for some technical info about the batteries themselves: liquid cooling, where positioned, how serviced, etc. But it seems such details are beyond the scope of the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, so maybe I’ll see about tracking down its Service Manual completely out of curiosity.

However, the POH is still a huge amount of useful information that covers what it can and can’t do. Ch. 3, Limitations: Weight, airspeed, maneuvering, etc. And, quite importantly, for now, for anyone concerned about somebody taking these things across country at night through storms, the Velis is limited to daytime VFR flight only.

But there are other limits to consider. In Ch. 3, p. 3-7, Other Restrictions. It’s forbidden to…

  • fly in heavy rainfall: what constitutes ‘heavy’?
  • thunderstorm activity: how far away?
  • blizzards: next to? how far away?
  • IFR or IMC
  • if the aircraft’s surface temperature is 130℉ or greater
  • aerobatics: I would argue that, apart from the structural limits of +4G & -2G, the additional issues are in the battery coolant system’s reservoir and pump aren’t capable of ensuring flow during aerobatics
  • minimum state of charge
  • with either battery removed: while it says you’ll need to have both installed, and I would argue that it’s missing an important additional phrase: connected and functional

I guess what I’m getting at is that while it’s an Experimental by US standards, there are still limitations on Experimental pilots until the technologies advance sufficiently to not require such limitations.

Someday, we’ll have electric flight for the world. It takes time.

But eventually, we’ll… er… our children or grandchildren will attain it.

The Future cometh.

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