London Airsports Centre welcomes the first-ever type certified electric-powered aircraft in the UK. 

On the 12th of April, flight training centres reopened whilst adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Aviators are enthusiastic about soaring above the clouds after months of waiting on the ground; thus, there will be an immediate increase in flight activity. Although the ongoing rise in carbon emissions due to flying needs notice, as the climate crisis is a global predicament, is there a potential solution to this issue? The answer seems to be the arrival of electric aircraft.

The Pipistrel Velis Electro, a two-seater light aircraft, is deemed the stepping stone to bringing ecological changes into aviation. Pipistrel, the Slovenia-based manufacturer, claims 'it is the greenest way of learning to fly' because the Velis Electro is quieter than its fuel-powered counterpart and produces no combustion gases. Thus, helping to resolve two of the prevalent problems concerning the environment- noise and air pollution. 

Damyns Hall Aerodrome, home to biplanes, microlights, gyrocopters and other varieties of aircraft, has been one of the first to be a base for an electric light aircraft. The Velis Electro is the electric version of the Virus SW 121, used for flight training worldwide, with the sole difference between the two aircraft only being the propulsion systems. Domenico Cioffi, a flight instructor at London Airsports Centre, stated, "it flies exactly the same." Cioffi also mentioned that the Velis Electro, in particular, is highly suitable for circuit training as the battery lasts for approximately an hour. Thereby making it more ecological as circuit training is a core part of the flight training syllabus. Nevertheless, it would not be permissible to conduct cross country flights due to the deficiency of battery charge, and hence other aircraft need to be relied upon for those cases.

Another notable advantage of an electric aircraft is easier maintenance, mainly as the engine compartment is more accessible than the non-electrified aircraft. According to Deepak Mahajan, the chief flight instructor at London Airsports Centre:

"The electric motor engine has fewer moving parts than a piston engine that is subject to wear and tear. However, they do need a new specific knowledge base for engineers and operators. This specific training is essential and is provided by the manufacturers."

Therefore, this suggests fewer costs in the long term regarding changing parts of the engine and buying the necessary fuel as it is more economical to use electrical power. 

Hence, this raises the question of why electric aircraft are not extremely common? Unfortunately, the added certification costs are incredibly high, ranging from £100,000, which is not astonishing as this is such new technology; consequently, it would be more expensive. Therefore, even if the public is aware of the need for electric aircraft, it "is tempered by the relatively high costs to purchase such vehicles". So, the transition to widespread use of electric aircraft is still relatively far off; perhaps it may even take few decades. However, there is still hope with what we have seen throughout the years, the electrification of cars and the government providing funding and incentives. For example, the government offered a grant to low emission vehicles and increased vehicle battery charging points across various areas in the UK. Therefore, having more charging points across airfields like the refuelling stations would help make electric aircraft more suitable for the complete flying experience and opening the doorway to a greener future.