The Danish Air Force will be the first in the world to receive electric aircraft. These are Velis Electro light training aircraft with full electric drive for the training of military pilots. This was done primarily as part of a campaign to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, the step is more symbolic than bringing real benefits to the environment.
On June 3, the Procurement and Logistics Service of the Danish Ministry of Defense announced the acquisition of two Velis Electro light training aircraft with full electric drive manufactured by Pipistrel (Slovenia) for a two-year lease from the French company Green Aero Invest. Exactly one year ago, in June 2020, the Velis Electro became the first electric-powered aircraft to receive a certificate from the European regulator. The certification process took less than three years.
What is Velis Electro?
The Velis Electro is a two-seat aircraft primarily designed for training flights. Its maximum take-off weight is 600 kg, its wingspan is 10.7 m, its maximum speed is 180 km/h, its maximum altitude is 3700 m, its flight duration is 30-50 minutes, and its range is just over 100 km.The cruising speed of the aircraft is up to 180 km/h, the practical ceiling is 3700 meters.
The electric motor is powered by two lithium batteries with a total capacity of 25 kilowatt-hour with a liquid cooling system. The full charge time depends on the ambient temperature and the wear and tear of the battery and can take up to two hours.
One power source is located in the nose, the second-behind the cabin, each of them automatically turns off in the event of a malfunction. One battery is enough to continue the flight, including the climb. Both the batteries and the engine are liquid-cooled. According to Pipistrel engineers, the service life of such an electric drive will be about twice as long as that of previous generations.
Delivery of both ordered Velis Electro aircraft is scheduled for September 2021. After a short program of initial flight performance tests, they will be passed on to the Air Force Aviation School for evaluation. In two years, based on the results of the pilot operation, the Danish Ministry of Defense will make a decision on further purchases.
Why does Denmark need electric planes?
The purchase of Velis Electro by Denmark is made in order to assess the maturity of the technology and the potential for military use of the “green”, that is, aimed at preserving the environment, concept. Danish specialists will assess the prospects for the use of this type of aircraft in the training of pilots. Experts already believe that it is better to practice take-off and landing on such aircraft, since the aircraft can perform nine landings in one flight.
This is a symbolic step taken by the Danish government to reduce carbon emissions. Theoretically, electric motors can be an alternative to jet engines, which are harmful to the environment and are sources of increased noise. Also, the electric power plant has fewer moving parts, so it wears out less.
However, the specific power of modern electric motors for aviation is noticeably lower compared to jet engines. Simply put, in fact, electric aircraft need more energy, and a complete transition to them is not economically feasible. In addition, it is necessary to charge the batteries with the help of power plants, where fuel is burned in the same way with carbon dioxide emissions into the environment. Therefore, the adoption of electric aircraft is still rather an interesting experiment.