Pipistrel Taurus G4 is the world’s first fully electric 4-seat aircraft to take flight!
From 25 September through 3 October the G4 is competing at the CAFE Green Flight Challenge in the USA.
Background and technical specification of the aircraft:
The Taurus G4 was developed specifically to race at the $1.65 million CAFE/NASA Green Flight Challenge (GFC) to be held in Santa Rosa, California, with the team Pipistrel-usa.com, lead by Jacob W Langelaan.
Pipistrel’s new, twin-fuselage plane was created by combining two Taurus G2 fuselages, connected by a 5-meter-long spar. A 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor, developed for the new Pipistrel’s 4-seat aircraft Panthera, is mounted between the passenger pods and drives a 2-meter-diameter, two-blade propeller in tractor configuration. Taurus G4’s full wingspan is about 21.36 meters (75 feet).
The undercarriage is retractable which enables good gliding ratio and low drag, paramount for the success at the competition. Despite not being intended as a glider, the superb aerodynamic profile gives the G4 an edge over the competition, since the goals of the challenge are mostly aeroefficiency and economic flight.
“The Taurus G4 NASA Racer is a technology demonstrator,” said univ.dipl.ing Tine Tomažič, Pipistrel development engineer and the leader of the G4 development team. “It is the first-ever electric four-place aircraft, the most powerful electric aircraft with most battery capacity on board.” He declined to disclose just what that capacity is (it is a race secret), nor did he disclose the aircraft’s “very high glide ratio” other than to say it’s more than 30 at cruise speed (100 mph). These and other aircraft details will be released at the GFC, he said.
All components of the aircraft have been developed and made by Pipistrel. Aerodynamic studies have been entrusted to prof. dr. Gregor Veble, Head of Research at Pipistrel. The construction of the aircraft was accomplished by univ.dipl.ing Vid Plevnik in cooperation with structural specialist univ.dipl.ing Rado Kikelj. The development of composite technology parts and systems was done by Sašo Kolar and Franci Popit with their teams. The most challenging part, namely the development of electronic systems and their regulation as well as the system for charging the batteries were developed by univ.dipl.ing Jure Tomažič
The aircraft was first presented to the public at the Oshkosh Airventure in July this year. According to the informal vote by the visitors, it was amongst 10 most attractive aircraft on display among 15,000 exhibited airplanes; each year, the EAA awards a virtual “Dead Grass Award” prize (for the most viewed exhibit) to the ten aircraft with most votes.
At the race, the aircraft will be flown by an American test pilot – the FAA requests that the first test flights must be performed by an American test pilot and CAFÉ competition rules also demand an American pilot to fly the aircraft at the race. Pipistrel is honoured to have one of the most famous American test pilots Dave Morss on the team.
The NASA Challenge
Pipistrel, founded by CEO Ivo Boscarol, has been producing Light aircraft for almost 20 years in Slovenia, with more than 1,000 completed overall. Pipistrel aircraft have done very well in previous efficiency competitions, including the 2007 CAFE/NASA Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge and the 2008 CAFE/NASA General Aviation Technology Challenge Centennial Challenge where the Pipistrel Virus SW claimed victory two years in a row.
Before the start of the NASA GFC competition in September, where the G4 will attempt the third consecutive victory, the aircraft must accomplish 40 hours of test flights under the supervision of the of the Pipistrel-USA.com race team leader, prof. Jacob W Langelaan.
More about this year’s NASA CAFE GFC can be found HERE.
On the occasion of this historic event – first flight of a 4-seat electric aircraft, which means one of the greatest development successes in the history of Pipistrel, the CEO of the company, Ivo Boscarol would like to thank and congratulate to everyone who contributed in any way to this great success. Cross your fingers for us at the competition!