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Thu, Dec 27, 2007

Pipistrel's Aero-Electric Aircraft Takes Flight

Taurus Electro Makes Quiet History

There's been a fair amount of hub-bub in the last few years over various "Green" applications for a number of transportation industries... aviation has been no exception.

Lightplane manufacturer, Pipistrel, has notified ANN that they are the latest company to tackle and fly an all-electric powered aircraft. Based on their flighty two place, side-by-side, Taurus motor-glider; the Electro Taurus boasts similar performance and characteristics to their gas-powered Taurus 503. The original Taurus was designed in an attempt to offer an autonomous and affordable gliding solution. The Taurus 503 is completely self-launchable, via the use of a single 50+ HP Rotax 503 engine, as adapted to a specialized Pipistrel retractable pylon mounted propeller system and twin parallel main landing gear (wide and stable enough to negate  the need for wingtip runners).

The 15-meter wings are equipped with winglets, 5-stage flaperons and airbrakes... coupled with a 'lifting-body shaped' fuselage. The standard Taurus can reportedly beat conventional glider tows in terms of climb rates/times… with recorded times from take-off to 1650 feet currently quoted at some 3 minutes.

A total of 6 minutes of climb will get you to 3300 ft, while a 10 minute climb will produce 5000 ft of thermal searching altitude. And as any glider guider can tell you, from 5000 feet, you can go just about anywhere.

The standard power system is reportedly fairly simple to operate -- as a simple manipulation of a switch retracts the engine into the fuselage with a minimum of house-keeping or supervision. Pipistrel's "intelligent engine control system" apparently does everything somewhat autonomously, including the in-line repositioning of the propeller to make sure that it has been oriented correctly so that as it retracts into the fuselage without gumming up the works. That done, it fits and closes within the aft part of the fuselage with minimal additional input. The aircraft boasts a 41:1 glide ratio for exceptional soaring capabilities.

The recently announced Taurus Electro (a project started in 2006), has reportedly become the World's first two-seat self-launching electric motor-glider. Details remain scant, but with performance matching the Rotax 503 powered version, the Taurus Electro becomes a "...noise free, emissions free, totally ecologic" alternative to conventional power systems.

We're awaiting additional details of the battery and motor system, but we must note that the test flights shown in these pictures appear to have been accomplished with both seats filled (i.e, a heavy load!), so we're anxious for more detail.

The Pipistrel company is located in the country of Slovenia, in a tiny little town known as Ajdovscina, (the entire country is just South of Austria). Pipistrel produces a number of microlight, trike and other sport aircraft.

FMI: www.pipistrel.si

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