Pipistrel wins $1.35 million in Google-sponsored 2011 Green Flight Challenge

In the end, the competition for the $1.35 million top prize in the 2011 Green Flight Challenge came down to just two craft, the eGenius and the Pipistrel G4. After both managed to meet the goal of the contest – fly 200 miles at over 100 miles per hour using less than the equivalent energy of one gallon of fuel per passenger – the winner seems to have been determined by its efficiency score.

The eGenius chalked up an impressive 375.8 pMPGe (passenger mile per gallon of fuel equivalent) and for their efforts won $120,000. Built specifically for this event, the Pipistrel G4 demonstrated both strategic and engineering supremacy, pulling down a 403.5 pMPGe.

The G4 is the world's first electric aircraft with seating for four and was constructed using a pair of fuselages from the company's Taurus G2. A 145-kW motor is situated in a pod in the center of the craft and drives a two-meter, two-blade propeller. Power comes from 450 pounds of lithium polymer batteries and the whole thing is supported by 75 feet (21.36 meters) worth of wing span.

Although the G4 won't be going into production, Pipistrel does have a more traditional-looking 4-seater in the works called the Panthera that will be offered in ICE, hybrid and all-electric versions; it could fly as soon as 2012. The company seems determined to continue to push the electric envelope and has indicated its next big goal is to break the speed of sound.

Wing your way past the break for a small flock of videos including flight footage from the contest, a close look at the Pipistrel G4 and complete coverage of the award ceremony along with a (very enthusiastic) press statement from Pipistrel's General Manager, Ivo Boscarol.
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"We are happy to have had the opportunity to raise the limitations of the electric flight one step higher. What was science fiction three years ago is reality today!

Pipistrel has proven that at the moment, aircraft industry has far overtaken the automotive industry – no car in the world is capable of driving 250 miles with the average speed higher than 100 miles per hour and the fuel consumption of less than one gallon per passenger – what is more, we did this regardless of the weight limitations in aviation and despite huge founding that the automotive industry has.

This achievement was made by Pipistrel and nobody can take this away from us anymore."
The second place was claimed by the team E-genius of the University in Stuttgart. This means a double victory for Pipistrel, who has been team E-Genius's development partner. Their aircraft is actually a modified Pipistrel Taurus (wings and fuselage) with a specially developed tail section and an electric propulsion system in the tail. So in a way, Pipistrel's aircraft claimed the first and the second place!

Just after the results were announced, the team Pipistrel astonished the organizers, the judges, the media and everyone present with a challenge of their own: Pipistrel's philosophy has always been to set a goal TOO high and then strive to achieve it. Therefore they have challenged the NASA, CAFE foundation, Google and the entire global aviation industry!! Pipistrel will donate a part of their 1.65 million prize money towards the prize for the next challenge, the objective of which will be to produce a supersonic electric aircraft!

To conclude, Pipistrel would like to thank the entire team of developers – without your knowledge and hard work, the world's first 4-seat electric aircraft would not fly! Thanks to all the Pipistrel employees for their support and hard work, to the organizers for the wonderful and well-prepared competition, to the judges for the job done fair and well and to all the other competing teams.

Thanks to everyone who helped this project in any way and last but not the least – thank YOU for your support and kind words!

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