Electric plane wins $1.35 million prize
The Pipistrel USA Taurus G4, a four-seat, twin-fuselage aircraft, earned the $1.35 million first prize from NASA.
October 4th, 2011
07:38 AM ET

Electric plane wins $1.35 million prize

A Pennsylvania company has won a $1.35 million prize from NASA for developing a highly efficient airplane power by electricity.

Pipistrel-USA.com of State College earned the top prize in the CAFE Green Flight Challenge, sponsored by Google, NASA announced Monday.

The plane developed by Pipistrel doubled the fuel efficiency requirement for the competition flying 200 miles in less than two hours while using less than a gallon of fuel per occupant or the equivalent in electricity. The winning plane used a little more than a half-gallon of fuel per passenger for the 200-mile flight.

Team Pipistrel-USA.com was one of 14 entrants in the competition, which began two years ago. In total, the 14 teams invested $4 million in the competition, according to NASA.

"Two years ago the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction," Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com, said in statement. "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."

Second place, and a $120,000 prize, went to Team eGenius of Ramona, California, whose leader, Eric Raymond, congratulated Team Pipistrel.

The winning aircraft, the Pipistrel Taurus G4, is a four-seat, twin-fuselage aircraft powered by a 145-kilowatt brushless electric motor driving a two-blade propeller mounted on a spar between the fuselages. The plane's wingspan is about 75 feet.

"I'm proud that Pipistrel won. They've been a leader in getting these things into production, and the team really deserves it, and worked hard to win this prize," Raymond said in a NASA statement.

"Electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice," Joe Parrish, acting chief technologist at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement.

The planes flew last week out of Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport in California. Only three of the 14 entrants made it into the air, according to The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. The airport is home to the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation, which organized the competition with NASA.

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Filed under: Aviation • NASA
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. ANONYMOUS

    UGH.... there is a typo in the very first sentence!

    October 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stan

      good catch ...should have powered not power

      October 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wally Balloo

      It's a lost caws hoping wryters on the webb can spel.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lancelot Link

      Technically that's not a typo, NERD

      October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thunder

      I do hope you are sterile.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michael

    Just wondering based on the nutty comments here that seem to think you are clever in trashing everything from our President to our entrepreneurs: Are so many of you really idiots?...or are you really just bored prepubescent males taking a break from your computer games?

    October 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rolly

      Michael, grow up, grow a pair and suck it up. Quit being such a little pansy.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lancelot Link

      Get a life M .... & Obama sucks the big one !

      October 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • agathokles

      Michael, they're BOTH - i.e., prepubescent boys who are also idiots.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. congajam

    BBQ: Thanks for your comment on spelling/grammar. You and I are probably around the same age and are from a vanishing generation. These days people are more interested in speed than accuracy. Either that or they just don't give a damn. No one fails, everyone passes. Heaven forbid little Jimmie or Janice has their ego damaged!

    October 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really

      You are such a LOSER!

      October 4, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tim Jordan

    Glad to see that the USA can still create engineers that make airplanes like the Pipistrel Taurus G4.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stan

      Taurus G4 is that a ford powered Apple computer ha ha

      October 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andre

    Actually the engineers are all Slovenians :)

    October 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • TeamUSA

      What about the 3 that actually took off ... must be Americans.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dilbert

      The engineers are Ebonians!

      October 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eric Jensen

    Just another example of GOVT + Free Enterprise = Win. There is a place for both.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • WIndnut

      Um, the government needs to get out of the way in most cases. The only thing they're good for is hand-outs as evidenced by this prize payout through NASA.

      GOVT= Federal Law, Taxes, National Defense and that's it. Leave the rest to the states and private industry.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lancelot Link

      you call Solyndra a "win" ?

      October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Windnut is an idiot, and an example of everything that is wrong with America today. Since when have corporations managed to police themselves? Never, that's when. Trace them all the way back into Roman times, and there is nothing but corruption and moral inequity for their entire history. My God, man; if corporations were left to their own devices, we'd still have kids losing hands in mill equipment... assuming their were any jobs for them. Last I looked, idiots like Windnut had all the jobs offloaded on other countries, just to get a little bit bigger dividend check. I don't much care for government either, but it serves a purpose, even if the only purpose it to prevent idiots like Windnut from telling the rest of us how to live.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • MCE

      "Win" as in rewarding companies who successfully innovate. This is gov't at its best. Encouraging innovation but only paying after the goal is achieved. The gov't does this when they want to accelerate private development of strategic technologies (e.g. DARPA autonomous desert challenge).

      October 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Enthalpy

    The motor must have been at less than 1/3 load after take off given the 2 gallons fuel equivalent they site. Either that or the fuel comparison is something other then standard aviation fuel. Still this is very impresssive!

    October 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gaadffly

      The real challenge will be to make it practical as well as cost effective for commercial and private avaition use. It looks like a lot of expensive airplane is needed to carry a few passengers 200 miles at 100 MPH.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gaadffly

    Engineers are working on extending the range with a longer lightweight extention cord. hehe

    October 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. WhackyWaco

    Doesn't look like it would hold too many passengers.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      Lets remember that this is an experimental aircraft that it testing the limits of this new technology. Maybe in 20 years of further research and development the technology in this plane could be used to create hybrid technologies that will increaase the efficiency of commercial airliners. When the Wright brothers created the first plane it sure didn't look like the commercial jets we have now. Building bigger takes time.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. skytag

    "Now, we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation."

    An impressive technological accomplishment, but I don't know what kind of future he thinks electric aviation has.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ales

      How about this one, made from the winning prototype from the picture.

      http://www.pipistrel.si/plane/panthera/overview

      October 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Only one way to find out. In the whole scheme of things this small prize is a drop in an olympic swimming pool that the goverment utilizes each year. And it went to a technology that could hold strong potential for creating effieciency.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rolly

    watch out for the trojan virus in the post above mine.....

    October 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. CJ Topspin

    Now the plane will only be available to the super rich so we will continue to stagnate technology.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • petercha

      Hate the wealthy much, CJ? Either that or jealous.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. alana

    so it runs for 500 miles or 50 ft. whichever comes first

    October 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Dudley4018

    Wow. How cool can you get?

    October 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Herrington

    $1.35 million from NASA? Who funds NASA? LMFAO I hate it.

    October 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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