Freunde der Elektromobilität is a Swiss organization that is passionate about promoting electric mobility. They used a Pipistrel Velis Electro to embark on their Elektro-Weltrekordflug (German for Electric World Record Flight), setting five world records along the way. They flew the electric two-seater from Zürich in the Swiss Alps to Norderney in the North Sea in North Germany. They did the flight to prove that battery-powered electric airplanes are a thing of the present. The Velis Electro by Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel is the first commercially available, EASA certified, electric sports aircraft.
The flight took place from August 31st to September 2nd, and required some careful planning due to the lack of infrastructure for electric aircraft along the way. Two ground crews in electric cars accompanied the airplane to bring proper charging equipment. The team was able to score five world records for electric aircraft:
- Lowest energy consumption: In the total distance flown of 838.964km, the aircraft consumed 190.963kWh of electric energy including charging losses. This amounts to 22.76kWh/100km, which is equivalent to 2.33l/100km of Diesel. This makes the Velis Electro roughly as efficient as a Tesla Model S, and 4x-5x as efficient as a comparable aircraft with an internal combustion engine.
- Highest average speed over 700km: The aircraft flew an average of 125.217km/h over the entire flight.
- Fastest average speed over 100km: The aircraft flew an average of 136km/h from Lahr airport to Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport.
- Lowest number of stops in 700km trip: The team made 11 stops in between the start and finish.
- Furthest electrically flown distance in 24/48/56 hours: The aircraft flew 326.878km in the first 24 hours, 608.382km in 48 hours, and 838.964km in 56 hours. The team behind the Elektro-Weltrekordflug notes that a few days later, on the way back home to Switzerland, they actually flew 382.44km in a span of 12 hours.
Originally, the team planned on setting two more records, one for highest altitude reached with an electric aircraft and one for highest rate of climb, but they could not be attempted due to the weather.
The community played a big part in making the project happen. People drove their personal electric vehicles to airports along the route to test the charging capabilities of the electrical sockets. They also contacted local media and donated money.
It has to be noted that the Solar Impulse team beated many of these records before. However, the Solar Impulse is a specialized, experimental aircraft, with special permits and specially trained pilots. The Elektro-Weltrekordflug was performed with the first commercially available and EASA-certified airplane that can be bought today.