Sparks fly: Skoda Enyaq iV meets electric aircraft Car News

It is the first electric aircraft to receive type certification. Built in Slovenia, it’s based on the Alpha, which uses a 1.5-litre flat-four with air-cooled cylinders and water-cooled cylinder heads for a power output of 100 bhp. This engine is manufactured by Rotax in Austria and is the powerplant of choice for most modern light aircraft. In its place in the Velis Electro’s nose is an electric motor, made in-house by Pipistrel, which produces 88 hp at take-off and drives a three-bladed composite propeller.

There are two batteries, firstly due to the need for redundancy and also for weight and balance. Keeping weight to a minimum in a light aircraft is crucial for performance, but knowing where the weight is placed is just as important. If you were to put all the batteries behind the cockpit, the center of gravity would be way too far back. If you took off, the plane would immediately stall and fall back to Earth on your back. Put all the batteries in front of the cockpit and it would try to dig itself nose first into the ground. So one battery sits between the firewall and the engine and the other behind the cockpit.

Both motor and power controller are water cooled by their own system. The batteries (each 12 kWh) are also water-cooled and feature a radiator which is cooled by air drawn through a scoop on the port side of the fuselage. The air is extracted via a duct under the fuselage. There is no on-board charger due to weight, so the batteries are charged via a unit which requires 415V three-phase AC power.

Before going further, we must talk about range, or rather endurance. The Pipistrel Velis Electro has a range of around 45 minutes with around 15 minutes reserve – much like the English Electric Lightning supersonic interceptor of the 1960s. Its top speed, or VNE (velocity never to exceed), is 108 knots and her cruising speed at 6000 feet is 102 knots. Pipistrel markets the Velis Electro as a trainer, due to its limited range and endurance. UK importer Deepak Mahajan, my captain in the Velis Electro, backs that up. So far he has sold several of the machines for £155,000 plus tax to flying schools.

The dashboard is exactly the same as in the Alpha Pipistrel, except for a display for the electric propulsion system indicator. This displays the battery charge and the temperatures of the battery and inverter when the aircraft is charging; or revolutions, power, battery charge, time remaining, voltage, battery temperature, and coolant temperatures for the engine and battery systems when flying. That’s more data than you get in the Enyaq, but in an airplane you need to know immediately if something is wrong. Finally, there are some warning light signs that will tell you if your day is about to be ruined.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-24 05:01:23

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