Question: What looks like two motorgliders flying in really tight formation sharing an engine… er, a motor, literally between them? Can this Burt Rutan-looking aircraft (photo) win the big dough? And I mean seriously big money with a purse of $1,650,000! *** Called the Pipistrel Taurus G4, the prize-seeking aircraft rolled out of the Pipistrel factory in Slovenia for the first time recently. After posing briefly for the camera, G4 taxied away quietly under electric power for the start of the flight testing program. *** Pipistrel previously won a big NASA check with their Virus SW but the company has now taken a wholly different approach, based on rules which give seat-mile advantage to four seater models. *** “This aircraft is the first four-place electric aircraft to be flown in the world,” stated Pipistrel. Their Taurus Electro claimed to be the first two-place electric aircraft to be flown in the world four years earlier.
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Right after Sun ‘n Fun, the e-flight Expo kicks off for the third time at “Aero” in Friedrichshafen, Germany, April 13-April 16. *** Bunches of new aircraft and propulsion technologies along with the awarding of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) will mark the gathering of 550 exhibitors from 26 countries. *** The e-flight name stands for more than electrical flight innovations: ecological and evolutionary advances in flight regardless of their nature are embraced, although electric is certainly leading the show. *** Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh, will present his foundation’s prize for outstanding achievements in the development of electric flight. *** This year should bring several exciting advances in electric flight . I’ll be doing a broad story for Plane & Pilot magazine soon on what’s up and what’s coming. *** Another highlight of the Expo is “History for the Future of Flight”, a tantalizing assemblage of descendants and close relatives of last century’s aviation pioneers: Claude Dornier, Igor Sikorsky, Marcel Dassault and Count Zeppelin.
Two aircraft are getting lots of buzz lately for their advancement of aviation technology. *** First up is the electrified Cri-Cri, which looks like a toy but is in fact an important joint electric R&D project of EADS Innovation, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association. *** The four-engine Cri-Cri originally debuted as a gas-engine powered, homebuilt acrobatic stunt plane many years ago. EADS modified the Hobbit-sized twin to serve as testbed project for developing electrical propulsion systems on helicopters, drones and other aviation platforms for the future. *** The original stunt plane had two piston mills, maxing out around 30 total horsepower. The all-electric Cri-Cri replaces those with four brushless electric motors. *** The “go-gas” comes from LiPo, or Lithium polymer, batteries, all the rage in RC modeling circles for years for their comparatively high energy density. *** Brushless motors boast 80% or better efficiency, compared to the 20% or less of average internal combustion engines.