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Pipistrel Taurus 4 Aims for GFC, Oshkosh Prizes



May 4, 2011 — The Taurus 4 NASA Racer, the latest electric aircraft from Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel, was announced as one of the entrants for the $1.65 million CAFE/NASA Green Flight Challenge (GFC) during last weekend’s fifth annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium held in Santa Rosa, California. Pipistrel claims its new, twin-fuselage plane is the first-ever electric four-place aircraft. It was created by combining two Taurus2e fuselages, connected by a 5-meter-long spar. A 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor is mounted between the passenger pods and drives a 2-meter-diameter, two-blade propeller in tractor configuration. Taurus 4’s full wingspan is about 21.36 meters (75 feet).

Pipistrel is also bringing Taurus 4 to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 to compete in EAA’s $60,000 Electric Flight Prize.

“The Taurus G4 NASA Racer is a technology demonstrator,” said Tine Tomazic, Pipistrel development engineer and the test pilot who will fly the aircraft. “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 (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 after the July 11-17 GFC, he said.

Tomazic also claims the Taurus 4 is the electric aircraft with the most endurance, other than the Solar Impulse.

All components of the composite aircraft are made by Pipistrel. Its unusual, dual-fuselage configuration resembles an XP-82 Twin Mustang fighter, or even WhiteKnightTwo. While seated in one of the compartments you cannot see people on the other side – only the opposite landing gear, Tomazic added. In addition, the aircraft is flyable from all four seats, but only by the pilot in command during flight.

Pipistrel, founded by CEO Ivo Boscarol, has been producing aircraft for 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.

The aircraft’s maiden flight is imminent, according to Pipistrel.

Specifications provided
Empty weight: 1,065 kilograms (470 kilograms is batteries)
Maximum takeoff weight: 1,500 kilograms
Seats: 4
Battery capacity: Not disclosed, but considered “race secret”
Motor: 145-kilowatt brushless electric
Wingspan: 21.36 meters (75 feet)


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