Am I the first one ......?
Flying and Driving Electric
6 October 2022
Someone said to me the other day that I might be the first flight instructor in the UK who commutes in an electric car from home to airfield, teaches in an electric aircraft and thus has a zero emission working day.
Now… that has got me thinking, a rare event by itself, me thinking, that is.
I started operating the Velis Electro in our flight school at Damyns Hall about 18 months ago, just as we were coming out of the Covid restrictions and the warm winter. Some of our first customers were two pilots from the RAF who came to us for their differences training on the Velis electro.
The Velis electro, for those readers not in the know, is the worlds first ever certified light aircraft with all electric propulsion system. This light aircraft is designed and manufactured by Pipistrel Aircraft in Slovenia. The battery packs, the BMS, electric motor, and the airframe are certified by EASA, U.K. C.A.A. and also in Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Slovenia.
We know the petrol consumption of the Rotax averages at 10 litres per hour on 80hp (60kw) and 15 litres per hour with the 100 hp engine (75kw).
We recently completed 100 hours of zero emission flight on the Pipistrel Velis Electro and were presented with our electric bill by the landlord. There is a dedicated electric meter that is connected to the power supply plug exclusively used to charge the Velis. And there is a dedicated electric meter for the car charger, exclusively used to charge my electric car. This allows me to calculate accurately how much electricity is used for flight and for the daily commute from home to airfield and back.
On arrival at the airfield, my daily routine has been slightly modified since the last month or so when I got the electric car, nicknamed the Z’no Roee. Instead of putting the kettle on, I now plug the Z’no Roee into the charger and then put the kettle on for the cuppa for students and self. By the way, our office electric supply is on a separate meter for which we get the bill separately and that’s not much as my team and I are outdoors drilling holes in the sky, all day long.
Comparing operating bills for fuel and electricity, I am so very pleased to find that unleaded petrol consumption of the VSW121 is less than half of the leaded AvGas burning Cessna 152.
The Alpha trainer burns 10 litres of unleaded petrol, when compared to the VSW121 fuel burn of 15 litres per hour.
And the non-fuel burning Velis Electro costs less than 1/3rd compared to the Alpha and less than 1/4th when compared to the VSW121.
When I calculate the “fuel” burn of my electric car, it costs me nearly £3.00 of electricity for my daily commute compared to the £10.00 of diesel fuel costs of my 2.2 litre estate car to make the same 50 mile round trip from home to airfield and back.
Now that’s what I call a clean commute leading to a clean flight with a clear conscience and zero emission on a daily basis.
1kw = 1.34hp
1 kwh = 1.34 hp / hour
1hp = 0.74 kw
Velis has 57.6 kw motor = 77.1 hp
80 hp consumes 10 litres per hour (or 60kw consumes 10 litres per hour)
100 hp consumes 15 litres per hour (or 75kw consumes 15 litres per hour)
100 hours of electric flight consumed 1750 kwh (billed cost is £280 for 1750kwh)
thus 17.5kw per hour of electric flight on average
Velis has 2 battery packs with total of 22kwh capacity
Z’no Roee has battery packs well hidden in the chassis with total of 50kwh
The table below is self explanatory - Cost savings and zero emission compared to any internal combustion engine.
Power Output Kw or hp
Unit cost £
57.6Kw = 77hp
60kw = 80 hp
75kw = 100 hp