AThe whole world is talking about electric cars, and the first electric series-produced aircraft are already taking off. Because even in general aviation, i.e. aviation below airplanes and military aviation, many are impressed with electric propulsion. However, few still buy such a fan gun. The reason for this is that the certification of an aircraft, its propulsion system and batteries is tedious and expensive. And there is still a lack of range of the machines and charging infrastructure at airports. So it takes courageous companies to develop, approve and offer a new electric aircraft – and environmentally conscious buyers.
The federal Olympic champion of downhill skiing in 2014, Dominique Gisin, is a declared fan of electric flight. That is by no means paying lip service to them. Because the ex-ski racer and studied physicist is now a professional pilot. She privately flies an airplane powered by an electric motor with full conviction and advocates more electric flying in general aviation.
This sets standards in two areas: If the charging current is generated from renewable energies, flying is CO2-neutral. In addition, electric aircraft are much quieter than conventional aircraft with internal combustion engines.
Dominique Gisin is also president of the Pro Flugplatz Kägiswil association in her home country, Central Switzerland. There she and her club mates purchased a modern Velis electric airplane from the Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel. The professional pilot loves to take to the air in an environmentally friendly way with the two-seater powered by an electric motor. The range of just under an hour’s flight time is not that long. According to Gisin, this is still enough to practice taking off and landing on traffic patterns with flight students. At the same time, the low noise on these exercise laps is gentle on the airfield residents. After a good hour’s break on the ground, the Velis’s battery is already charged again. In any case, the Olympic champion, who is highly popular in Switzerland, is beating the drum everywhere for electrically powered flying as the future of aviation.
Several examples of the first electric aircraft of the Velis type registered in Europe are already flying in Switzerland. Ten of them are to be used at federal flight schools. In Grenchen, Switzerland, where the Electrifly-in trade fair recently took place, a colorful range of electrically powered propeller planes and motor gliders could already be seen.
A recent change in the law has made it possible for this environmentally friendly form of aviation – if the charging current is generated from renewable energies – to be accessible in Germany as well. For example, on the recommendation of the European flight safety agency EASA, the Federal Ministry of Transport allows private pilots with a license for propeller-driven Cessna, Piper and others up to two tons to also fly electric aircraft. The training flights for the extension of the pilot’s license can also be completed on electric aircraft in the future.
“I am convinced that we need this technology in aviation,” says Dominique Gisin, emphasizing flying with electricity. The Olympic downhill skiing champion cannot completely let go of combustion engines and the speed that goes with them: In her main job, as a pilot, she controls a Pilatus PC-12 with a propeller turbine, which is faster than 500 km / h.