REFILE-Slovenian company produces first EASA-certified fully-electric plane, in milestone for aviation

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AJDOVSCINA, Slovenia, July 2 (Reuters) - A Slovenian aviation company has produced the world’s first fully electric plane to be type-certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), meaning it meets safety standards and can be used commercially.

The battery-powered plane, the Pipistrel Velis Electro, is a small two-seater, intended for training pilots. It can fly for 50 minutes, plus reserve, which is typical for flying school use.

“We started flying electrically in 2007 and built more than eight aeroplanes prior to Velis Electro. We identified what is needed technologically as well as from the user’s standpoint to have a type-certified aeroplane,” said Tine Tomazic, Pipistrel Director of Research and Development.

“Type-certified means the aeroplane can be used without restrictions commercially and this is truly a step for aviation as a whole, which will enable electrification also of much larger aircraft to come.”

Pipistrel is due to deliver the first 31 Velis Electro to customers in seven different countries this year.

“This is an exciting breakthrough,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky in a statement last month.

“This is the first electric aircraft EASA has certified but it will certainly not be the last, as the aviation industry pursues new technologies to reduce noise and emissions and to improve the sustainability of aviation.” (Reporting by Borut Zivulovic; Writing by Ivana Sekularac Editing by Alexandra Hudson)