Skip to main content

Florida Tech Buys Electric Trainer

A private research university in Melbourne, Florida has become the first college in the U.S. to own and fly an electric aircraft.  The Florida Institute of Technology has purchased a Pipistrel Velis Electro to give its students the opportunity to conduct experiential research. 

While the aircraft is not yet FAA-certified, Florida Tech expects its students to benefit from the cutting-edge technology.  Additionally, the university is in the process of setting up a contract to provide the FAA with data from the Velis Electro’s first 50 flight hours.

“We expect to see some drawbacks and limitations, but more importantly we expect to also see potential opportunities,” said Brian Kish, Florida Tech flight test engineering program chair.  “As the first U.S. customer, Florida Tech will report our research findings to Pipistrel and the FAA.  This initial feedback is crucial in the engineering process to evolve the design as well as assist federal regulators on developing certification and training guidelines.”

In June 2020, the Velis Electro became the first fully electric aircraft to receive a type certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).  Primarily designed as a trainer and powered by Pipistrel’s liquid-cooled E-811 electric motor, the two-seat aircraft has a cruise speed of 90 knots, 600-kg (1320-lb.) maximum takeoff weight, 172-kg (378-lb.) payload and endurance of up to 50 minutes plus VFR reserve.  The suggested retail price of the Velis Electro is $190,000.