Pipistrel Flies Panthera Prototype to Aero Freidrichshafen

Sleek single makes surprise trek to Germany.

Pipistrel Panthera Aero

Pipistrel Panthera Aero

** Pipistrel Panthera**

The sleek Pipistrel Panthera piston-single prototype made a surprise journey over the Alps from its home in Slovenia to the Aero Friedrichshafen show in Germany yesterday.

As soon as the airplane landed around 1 p.m. local time, it began drawing crowds wanting a closer look. The Panthera is a four-seater that its maker claims will be able to fly 1,000 nm, cruising at 200 knots while burning just 10 gallons of avgas per hour. With full composite construction and titanium retractable undercarriage, the Panthera can be equipped with a "conventional, hybrid, or all electric propulsion system." Standard power comes from a 210 hp Lycoming engine.

Pipistrel test pilots flew the Panthera for the first time earlier this month at Slovenia's sole military airport, which also serves civilian traffic. The runway is paved, as opposed to the grass field adjacent to Pipistrel's facility in Ajdovščina, where the first engine-runs, taxi- and ground-testing were recently completed.

The Panthera is Pipistrel's first Part 23 airplane. Certification is expected in 2015 and the base price is projected to be in the mid-$500,000 range.