Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

Unique Pipistrel model to compete for NASA prize.

Taurus G4
Taurus G4
Courtesy of Pipistrel

The Taurus G4, a four-seat electric aircraft developed by Pipistrel, took to the air for the first time in the United States during its official maiden flight on Friday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Designed specifically to compete in NASA’s upcoming CAFE Green Flight Challenge, the aircraft had previously completed a few test hops in Europe before being brought to the United States and put on display at last month’s AirVenture.

With a 75-foot wingspan, dual fuselages and a 145-kilowatt electric motor, the Taurus G4 is both visually and functionally unique. The dual fuselages, which are actually two Taurus G2 fuselages linked together by a five-meter spar, both contain portions of the airplane’s 450-pound lithium-polymer battery supply.

According to Pipistrel, the company had a difficult time importing the Taurus G4 to the United States in the first place after the aircraft’s power supply raised flammability concerns. The company also had difficulty finding an insurer for the aircraft, until significant media attention at Oshkosh rectified that problem.

While Pipistrel has kept the Taurus G4’s full design and performance specs under wraps, company officials say they hope the aircraft’s unique aerodynamic profile, which includes a glide ratio of more than 30:1 at cruise speed, will give it an edge during NASA’s Green Challenge, slated to take place in September.