Textron eAviation Shows Off FAA-approved Velis, Works on Nexus eVTOL

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Textron eAviation Shows Off FAA-approved Velis, Works on Nexus eVTOL

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Pipistrel subsidiary is driving electric aircraft innovation at the Textron division

This week at the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, Textron eAviation is showing off its first Pipistrel Velis Electro to receive an FAA exemption from light sport aircraft (LSA) regulations. The exemption came March 4 and permits the electric-powered, two-seat airplane to be operated under LSA regulations in the U.S.

Kriya Shortt, the president and CEO of Textron eAviation, said at the show that the company’s goal is to now deliver exempted Velis Electro demonstrators to its dealer network. With the battery providing about 50 minutes of endurance (not including reserves), she noted that the small airplane is ideal for near-airport flight training, meaning practicing takeoffs and landings, as well as pattern work, because of its more muted noise profile.

In addition, Shortt said the Velis Electro’s lower acquisition cost and 60 to 70 percent lower operating costs versus piston airplanes will result in reduced aircraft rental costs, saving flight students money. “Cost is really a big barrier for flight students,” she said, adding that flight schools are a primary target market for the all-electric airplane.

Pipistrel designed a proprietary battery monitoring system for the Velis Electro. According to Shortt, this system takes battery health and charge state into consideration to present the pilot with an accurate display of remaining endurance and power.

Meanwhile, the Wichita-based company continues to work on the Nexus eVTOL aircraft and is currently building a full-scale vehicle that is expected to fly next year. “The fuselage is coming together, and first flight is planned for the first half of 2025,” Shortt said.

Textron eAviation took over the Nexus project from sister company Bell in March 2022 and since then has made refinements to the design. Bell is designing and manufacturing the aircraft’s two aft fixed rotors, while sister company McCauley is responsible for the tiltrotor propellers.

On the battery front, she said Nexus will leverage Pipistrel’s expertise in this area. “Many in the industry see Pipistrel as the leader in aircraft battery technology,” Shortt noted. “We have a really interesting group of people with doctoral degrees in physics and chemistry, not to mention aerospace engineers.”

The Velis Electro is using Pipistrel’s second-generation battery. “We’re always testing new battery types—this area is always evolving,” Shortt concluded.

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