A flight school on Vancouver Island is celebrating a unique feat that will see it become the first business of its kind in B.C. to soar with a fully electric plane.
Campbell River-based Sealand Flights Ltd., a flight training unit, is set to acquire a Pipistrel Velis Electro, a fully electric aircraft, for training purposes in late January, according to the company in a news release Monday. It says flights should commence next month.
Sealand calls it a “groundbreaking initiative” that “hallmarks a significant founding stride in sustainable aviation,” especially since the plane is “state of the art” and allows for zero-emission flights with ultra-quiet noise impact.
Mike Andrews, a pilot and spokesperson for Sealand, is thrilled because the new plane aligns with the company’s environmental goals to reduce its carbon footprint.
“The integration of electric airplanes into our fleet of training aircraft is a testament to Sealand’s immense dedication to sustainability and innovation in aviation,” said Andrews. “Alongside other industry leaders, we are excited to help pave the pathway towards sustainable aviation in Canada.”
On its website, Pipistrel markets the Velis Electro as “the greenest way of learning to fly!” It says the two-seater plane, intended primarily for pilot training, has a 57.6kW liquid-cooled electric engine with noise noise levels of 60 dBa.
It says the plane’s battery allows for 50 minutes of flying.
“With its quietness, Velis Electro can bring flight training much closer to urban areas without adversely affecting communities’ quality of life,” said Pipistrel.
Last year, B.C. Premier David Eby lauded electric planes, saying the province was committed to embracing and supporting sustainable aviation technology and related opportunities.
“This provincial government recognizes the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonize the aviation sector,” said Eby last October.
Sealand says it will be inviting the public, as well as government officials and industry members, to a first-flight event. It adds that details will be announced soon.
“We are grateful for the ongoing support from the communities of Campbell River, Powell River, Courtenay, and Qualicum Beach, along with our partnership with Transport Canada,” the company said.
Skies Mag says the first Velis Electro in Canada took to the skies in 2022, as part of a partnership with Transport Canada to evaluate battery-powered electric flight.