A Norfolk aviation firm is gearing up to make history next week, when the world's first certified electric plane takes to the skies for its maiden voyage. 

Saxonair is launching its state-of-the-art two-seater aircraft - designed specifically for passenger pleasure flights - from its base at Norwich Airport on Tuesday, becoming the first company to operate a fully certified electric plane.

Although not the first battery-powered craft to take flight, the Pipistrel Velis Electro, which is owned by Bungay-based firm NEBOair, is the first to be fully certified by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

Eastern Daily Press: The Pipistrel Velis Electro electric aircraft (Image: NEBOair)The Pipistrel Velis Electro electric aircraft (Image: NEBOair) (Image: NEBOair)

The electric aircraft has a 57.6kw electric motor allowing for the high winged aircraft to cruise at 98 knots, up to 12,000 feet for around 50 minutes.  

It’s powered by a battery system which includes two batteries and a portable charger, weighing around 45kg in total. 

And because the plane is much lighter than an average aircraft - just 428kg total - they don’t need as much starting power to get off the ground. 

SaxonAir, which employs around 100 people at its Klyne Aviation Business Centre base, is also working alongside NEBOair on a vision to open up a network of solar-powered charging points at 13 airfields along the east of the country, with the aim being that passengers could fly from one to the next.

If that were to go ahead it would represent one of the first tailored routes specifically for electric aircraft in the world. 

Alex Durand, chief executive of Norwich Airport-based SaxonAir, said: “I think we are about to enter a new golden age of aviation and electric aircraft is a big part of that.

“We are looking at the very real possibility of a network of electrified airfields being rolled out by the end of the year. It’s incredibly exciting to think what that could lead to next.

“Meanwhile, we’re ready to go with pleasure flights in an electric aircraft and we really can’t wait to showcase that to the people of Norfolk.”