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Pipistrel Unveils Panthera

 

Pipistrel's Panthera
(Photo by Marino Boric)

By Marino Boric, EAA 1069644, for EAA.org

April 19, 2012 - A new airplane generating plenty of buzz at AERO 2012 is Pipistrel's Panthera, a sleek, sexy, fuel-efficient, four-place aircraft unveiled Wednesday. Pipistrel claims its new offering will cruise at 200 knots, sipping 10 gallons of unleaded fuel per hour with a 1,000-nautical-mile range with four people on board.

Pipistrel, which has become well known for its NASA Green Flight Challenge-winning designs like the Taurus G4 and Sinus/Virus, is aiming Panthera at the Cirrus market. The prototype displayed at AERO was completed just a few hours prior to the show, demonstrating Pipistrel's ability to implement new aerodynamic design and build techniques. The clean-sheet design is mostly composites with a lot of titanium parts. The wing uses three different aerodynamic profiles along the cord and can't hide its glider airplane heritage.

Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol is confident that Panthera will establish new efficiency and safety standards in its class. The airplane will be a Part 91 aircraft and built just across the border in Italy due to the lack of a Slovenia-U.S. certification agreement.

The Panthera will initially use the proven Lycoming IO-390 fuel-injected engine, but the already-tested electric propulsion unit from the contest-winning G4 is one option as a hybrid propulsion system. The maiden flight is expected in two to three months and the airplane will be shown at AirVenture 2013. The certification is expected in the same year.

Standard equipment includes a low-altitude, high-speed ballistic parachute system, safety flight deck, tuned exhaust system, titanium trailing-link retractable landing gear, and Garmin avionics. Global Part-23 certification is expected in 2015.

According to Tine Tomazic of Pipistrel's research and development, an experimental version of the Panthera will cost $439,500 in Europe, certified $518,000, with a 5 percent export discount offered.

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