Skip to main content
European Commission logo
European Alternative Fuels Observatory

Alternative fuelled aircrafts

Electric Aircrafts

An electric aircraft is an aircraft powered by electricity, almost always via one or more electric motors which drive propellers. Electricity may be supplied by a variety of methods, the most common being batteries. The number of new types of electric aircrafts, including pilot and experimental projects grew steadily in the past. 

The status of the electric aircraft models is differing, most of them are only prototypes and not available in commercial production. There are also many demonstrations, project-based activities and some are under development for production. There is currently one type certified electric aircraft, the Pipistrel Velis Electro from Slovenia (In April 2022 the company was purchased by US company Textron), which is a trainer aircraft.  

Electric aircraft sales

Worldwide shipments of certified electric aircraft
 Q3 2020Q4 2020Q1 2021Q2 2021Q3 2021Q4 2021Q1 2022Q2 2022Q3 2022

Q4 2022

Q1 2023Q2 2023Q3 2023
Pipistrel Velis Electro581486204616144

Source: Gama Quarterly Shipments and Billings (1), (2), (3), (4), (5)

More than half of electric aircrafts has propeller shaft engines, some are motor gliders and there are other types in smaller quantities, such as rotorcrafts, ducted fans and personal air vehicles. If we look at the electrification type, there are mostly battery electric aircrafts developed, with some examples of solar and hybrid models. Considering the country of origin for the aircrafts, Germany, France and Slovenia are the most prominent countries in the European Union. There is also Switzerland in Europe with several experimental and pilot projects developed.  

Hydrogen Aircrafts

A hydrogen-powered aircraft is an aeroplane that uses hydrogen fuel as a power source. Hydrogen can either be burned in a jet engine or another kind of internal combustion engine or can be used to power a fuel cell to generate electricity to power a propeller. Unlike most aircraft, which store fuel in the wings, hydrogen-powered aircraft are usually designed with the hydrogen fuel tanks inside the fuselage.