Electric Aircraft

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© Bernhard Baur

The operation of electrically powered aircraft is currently in a rapid development phase. This technology is evolving quickly and regulations for areas such as initial airworthiness, continuing airworthiness, aircrew and operations are being defined. 

The purpose of this website is to provide a source of information for the different stakeholders. Its contents is regularly being reviewed with topics related to electrically powered aircraft.

Initial airworthiness, design and certification of electrically powered aircraft

Depending on your project the authority is either EASA or FOCA if you want to build a proof of concept aircraft under the national framework.

National project

EASA project

The legal basis here is the so called “basic regulation” (EU) 2018/1139. The way to proceed is available under www.easa.europa.eu. There you navigate to “Regulations” and “Initial airworthiness”. You will have to follow the procedures from Part 21.

Technical requirements

The technical requirements are similar for EASA or national projects. In the end, the aircraft must have a certain level of technical safety.

In a first step, you and the authority have to define the so called certification basis. This builds a set of standards and paragraphs applicable for your design. Those are specifications like CS-23, CS-LSA, CS-VLA for the aircraft itself – independently of the propulsion system.

The standard will include specific requirements such as to take into consideration the electric nature of the aircraft’s propulsion system.

One of the main concerns is the ability to have a fire in the aircraft with lithium based batteries. For this reason, we normally request the applicability of some standards like the RTCA-DO-311A. Since this requires software and airborne electronic hardware, this may demand the standards RTCA-DO-178C and RTCA-DO-254.

The standardization organization ASTM International published also some useful standards - the ASTM-F28140, ASTM-F3239 and ASTM-F3338 are good starting points.

This will certainly request some tests on equipment and aircraft level. Since the development is ongoing, we cannot provide any list with all standards and requirements. This will be part of the certification basis agreement. It also depends on the intended operation.

There are also some special conditions available on the EASA website. Examples are SC-LSA-F2840-01 and SC-LSA-15-01.

Flight Crew Licensing, Continuing Airworthiness and Operation

The Flight Crew Licensing, Continuing Airworthiness and Operations aspects will be regulated nationally, as the EASA regulatory frame is not yet ready to encompass electric aviation. This national process is the issuance of Exemption to Basic Regulation as foreseen by the Basic Regulation itself.

Registration of electrical aircraft in Switzerland

Electrical aircraft can be registered in the Swiss Aircraft Register under the following conditions:

EASA aircraft

If the aircraft has an EASA type certificate and was delivered with either an EASA Form 52 (Aircraft Statement of Conformity), EASA Form 25 (Certificate of Airworthiness) or EASA Form 24 (Restricted Certificate of Airworthiness). If the aircraft type is not or has not yet been approved by EASA and for which an EASA Form 20a (Permit to Fly) based on valid EASA flight conditions has been issued, a registration in Switzerland is also possible.

Examples of EASA type certified electric aircraft are:

Powered Gliders

- E1 Antares (TCDS: EASA.A.092)
- Discus-2cFES (TCDS: EASA.A.050)
- LAK-17B FES (TCDS: EASA.A.083)
- ASG-32el (TCDS: EASA.A.599)
- LS8-e (TCDS: EASA.A.047)

Aeroplanes

- Virus SW 128 "Velis Electro" (TCDS: EASA.A.573)

Non-EASA aircraft

Aircraft fulfilling the conditions contained in the relevant annexes of VLL (748.215.1) available under (in German language) Luftfahrzeuge der Sonderkategorie can be registered in Switzerland. It has to be noted that, in case Switzerland is not the State of Design, a validation against the national regulations may be required and is a pre-requisite for the aircraft to be registered in Switzerland.

Homebuilt aircraft, if they are built under the supervision of the EAS - Experimental Aviation of Switzerland and FOCA do not need any formal type certification and can be registered in Switzerland.

How to operate the HB-registered Velis Electro

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© Bernhard Baur

Since the regulatory framework does not yet cover maintenance and pilot rating, FOCA requested for an exemption to the European regulations.

Details are published in the official publication (in German) BBl 2020 5972 - Ausnahmen von den Bestimmungen über die Pilotenberechtigungen, den Flugbetrieb und den Unterhalt für das neu zertifizierte, elektrisch angetriebene Luftfahrzeug Pipistrel Virus SW 128, Velis Electro (admin.ch).

Please note that the Swiss decision is only applicable to the HB-registered PVS SW 128 aircraft operated by any individual or legal person/organisation(s), which are under the responsibility/oversight of the FOCA.

The exemption covers so far the use of those aircraft in NCO operations under VFR rules only. This will allow to gain experience to share between EASA and Member States and to prepare for the next step(s) if needed.

The goal includes the entry of all the aspects of the electrical powered aviation into force of the EU regulation for electric aircraft.

Informations for first responders in case of incidents or accidents

In case of incidents or accidents with electrically powered aircraft, some important differences from other aircraft must be taken into account.

Electrically powered aircraft are equipped with rescue cards to support the tasks of first responders such as fire brigades, EMS or police officers. These rescue cards are available on the FOCA website under the Swiss Aircraft Register and can be found by searching with the HB-registrations of the individual aircraft.

Further information

Specialist staff
Last modification 10.08.2021

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Contact

Federal Office of Civil Aviation

Type Certification
3003 Bern
Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 465 31 74 

electric-aircraft@bazl.admin.ch

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