Wed, Jul 27, 2011
One Has A Single Electric Engine Flanked By Two Cockpits
By Chris Batcheller
Displayed on the grounds this year is a unique looking glider.
With twin fuselages and an engine pod in the middle, this is one of
the more unique airplanes to be displayed at Airventure
Pipistrel purpose built this airplane to win this years NASA PAV
challenge. Pipistrel is no stranger to the NASA challenge; having
won the two year prior. The Pipistrel team reviewed the rules, and
they decided the best way to win was with an electric 4 seat
airplane. The goal is huge, to achieve 100 miles per gallon per
seat at more than 100 mph over a 200 mile course.
To make the airplane the team has taken 2 production models, a
Taurus Electro G2 and grafted the fuselages together. With
this configuration, two people sit in the left fuselage and two
people sit in the right. It looks very “Rutan”
inspired, similar to the “Boomerang” without the
asymmetry. The airplane can be flown from either cockpit, although
the team flies it from the left and the right cockpit has ballast
to simulate passengers.
The airplane is full of cutting edge technology.
It’s also the largest wingspan and the largest electric
motors. The electric motors are equivalent to 200 hp. Pipiental is
used to being on the leading edge, having flown the first electric
airplane in the world to carry a passenger.
Pipistrel is also using the airplane as a test bed for an
electric version of the Panthera design which is under development.
The 200 mph design is planned to have a range of 1000 miles. The
Panthera will be aviabiable in three versions, an internal
combustion engine, a hybrid version with an electric and a purely
The company has no commercial plans for the airplane. The
plane is strictly for the competition and for research and
development at Pipistrel. As to the fate of the unique
looking airplane? Pipistrel’s Mike Coates has been told the
airplane will be cut up.
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