Aircraft

Pipistrel takes US$1.35 million first prize in NASA Green Flight Challenge

Pipistrel takes US$1.35 millio...
NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
View 8 Images
Pipistrel team leader Jack Langelaan, in front of the Taurus G4 (Photo: NASA)
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Pipistrel team leader Jack Langelaan, in front of the Taurus G4 (Photo: NASA)
The Taurus G4, completing the competition (Photo: NASA)
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The Taurus G4, completing the competition (Photo: NASA)
NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
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NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
The Taurus G4 being woven for take-off (Photo: NASA)
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The Taurus G4 being woven for take-off (Photo: NASA)
Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft poised for take-off (Photo: NASA)
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Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft poised for take-off (Photo: NASA)
NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
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NASA has just announced that Pipistrel-USA's Taurus G4 aircraft won first prize in its Green Flight Challenge for practical electric aircraft (Photo: NASA)
Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft, waiting in the hangar (Photo: NASA)
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Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft, waiting in the hangar (Photo: NASA)
A Pipistrel-USA team member wiping down the Taurus G4 (Photo: NASA)
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A Pipistrel-USA team member wiping down the Taurus G4 (Photo: NASA)
View gallery - 8 images

Two years ago, aircraft designers were invited to build an electric airplane that could fly at least 200 miles (322 km) in under two hours, using less than one gallon (3.8 liters) of fuel per occupant - or the electrical equivalent. Whichever plane performed best would win its makers a prize of US$1.35 million. That was the idea behind the Green Flight Challenge, a NASA competition that was managed by the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation, and funded by Google. Well, the challenge wrapped up last week, with the winners being announced this Monday. Pennsylvania's Pipistrel-USA team took first place, for its Taurus G4.

The twin-fuselage aircraft has seating for four people, and a 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor that turns a two-bladed propeller, which is mounted between the fuselages. Its wingspan is approximately 75 feet (23 meters).

Out of 14 aircraft originally entered in the competition, it was one of three to make it through to the finals, held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. Of those finalists, both the Taurus and the second-prize-winning eGenius doubled the required fuel efficiency, in that they each used the equivalent of just over half a gallon of fuel per occupant.

Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft poised for take-off (Photo: NASA)
Pipistrel's Taurus G4 electric aircraft poised for take-off (Photo: NASA)

The Taurus specifically managed an equivalent fuel efficiency of 403 passenger miles per gallon (0.58L/100km) at a speed of 107 miles per hour (172 km/h) - according to Pipistrel team leader Jack Langelaan, that is twice as fast and efficient as a fully-occupied Toyota Prius.

"Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," he stated. "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."

The video below was shot by a camera mounted on the Taurus G4.

View gallery - 8 images
6 comments
Mr Stiffy
This gets my royal nod of approval, for utter tight arsedness in fuel consumption and efficient design - and speed.
Fails in finding a car park at the super market... lol.
BigGoofyGuy
It is odd yet very cool looking. Being green is a bonus. :)
pipi
Pipistrel is actually a company from Slovenia: http://www.pipistrel.si.
Miha Feuš
One of the few Slovenian companies that kicks ass around the world. Congratulations to Ivo Boscarol and the whole Pipistrel team.
Slowburn
An impressive feet of engineering but I did better on speed driving an old Subaru wagon from Grand Junction CO to Las Vegas NV strait line distance, ignoring recharging times.
aerodarts
@slowburn: the key is On the ground.....vrs in the air....and improvements will be made as the technology advances.