The Florida Institute of Technology has become the first university in the USA to operate an all-electric aircraft, a Velis Electro supplied by Slovenia-based Pipistrel.
The aircraft was flown this week by former associate dean of the Florida Institute of Technology, Isaac Silver. He flew for 22 minutes, using about a third of the aircraft’s battery capacity.
The Velis Electro is a two-seater electric aircraft intended primarily for pilot training. It was certified by EASA in June 2020, but is yet to be certified in the USA.
The University, which is based Melbourne, Florida will fly the Electro experimentally and share data from the first 50 hours of flight with the FAA to help the regulator learn more about the aircraft. The federal agency is in the process of awarding Florida Tech an US$85,000 contract to provide data from the first 50 flight hours of the Velis Electro.
According to Florida Tech it is the first American university to own and fly an electric plane. The purchase was supported by the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust. “We are so grateful to donors like the Buehler Trust, who help us remain on the cutting edge of aviation education,” said Gary Grant, senior vice president for development.
Ivo Boscarol, CEO and founder of Pipistrel, said, “We are happy and proud to announce that after the Taurus Electro and Alpha Electro, the Pipistrel Velis Electro is already the third serially-produced Pipistrel electric aircraft model which now flies in the USA.
“Pipistrel will continue to work with the FAA to identify paths to recognize the EASA type-certification in the USA, to allow for commercial operations and pilot training with the Velis Electro – which is already possible in all EASA member states and countries where EASA validations are enabled.”