Affinity Flying Training Services has conducted a series of flight tests using battery-powered aircraft for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The tests were carried out to evaluate the feasibility of using environment-friendly alternatives in place of the existing UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) training aircraft.

The trials were driven by the RAF’s Astra initiative and represent steps towards achieving a net-zero carbon emissions target by 2040.

Velis Electro, a two-seater pilot training aircraft, was used for the flight tests. Affinity is a joint venture between KBR and Elbit Systems UK.

With Affinity’s support, the UK MoD has explored the concept, processes, functionality and implementation of the electric aircraft.

UK MoD project sponsor captain Steve Bolton said: “The Velis Electro is undoubtedly a groundbreaking civil aircraft, which signposts the potential for meaningful changes in future light aircraft operations.

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“I know that our test pilots and support staff have enjoyed the process of getting to grips with something hitherto beyond their reach.”

During the trials, a small team of pilots from the Air and Space Warfare Centre flew the Velis Electro aircraft at two different locations.

Phase one of the training was conducted in December last year from Damyns Hall, Essex, followed by the second phase that started last month at RAF College Cranwell.

Apart from electric aircraft, the RAF is taking several steps to attain net-zero carbon emissions.

The steps include using sustainable and synthetic fuels for aircraft, upgrading equipment with hydrogen and electric alternatives, and using alternative energy resources among others.

In July 2021, the UK Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) also conducted a Zero Emissions Air System Market Exploration for the RAF.