Pipistrel Panthera Flies for the First Time
Pipistrel's sleek, new Panthera flew for the first time on April 4.
The Panthera is Pipistrel's first four-place GA aircraft. (Photos courtesy of Pipistrel)
April 8, 2013 - Pipistrel announced "a very successful first flight" of its new, four-place Panthera on April 4 at the Airport of Cerklje ob Krki in Ajdovscina, Slovenia.
The 54-minute flight by test pilot Mirko Anzel and copilot Saso Knez followed several high-speed taxi tests and runway hops at the company's headquarters. The Panthera, Pipistrel's first non-LSA/ultralight, was unveiled to great fanfare last year at AERO Friedrichshafen 2012.
The Panthera is made of composite materials with a retractable titanium landing gear. The company claims the aircraft can fly four people for 1,000 nautical miles at 200 kts at a fuel burn rate of 10 gallons per hour. The prototype is powered by a 210-hp Lycoming engine, but Pipistrel envisions Panthera can be also be configured with hybrid or all-electric propulsion systems. A ballistic parachute system is standard.
The airplane performed exactly as expected, with handling described as "straightforward and pilot friendly," the company stated. First and subsequent flights were flown with gear down and retracted.
"This is Pipistrel's first entry into the world of general aviation," commented Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel CEO. "We knew for a long time that we were capable of developing and producing aircraft larger and more capable than ultralights/LSAs. Panthera is proof that Pipistrel's team can indeed compete with the most eminent global general aviation producers."
Panthera is also significant as it's Slovenia's first ever four-place production airplane. Needless to say, the Panthera will be on display at AERO this year, scheduled for April 24-27.