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.

Post by:
Filed under: Aviation • NASA
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. Jm

    Or if they fly that thing through one of those electromagnetic cloud vortex things over the Bermuda triangle.........

    October 4, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tad Pole

    This can't be done! Nothign to see here, move along!

    October 4, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. bert f.

    With a 75 foot wing span, highly impractical for use as a personal aircraft as it is too wide to use at most local airports. It certainly is not practical as a commercial aircraft.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Asav

      Bert, the local airports will be modified if this becomes a standard!

      October 4, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • John _Atlanta GA

      The Wright borthers only flew a few feet, this airplane idea is really not practicle for commercial travel.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Pokydoke

      How are those cave paintings doing? Are they done yet?

      October 4, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Boston Bean Smasher

      That's funny Bert. I commercial jets wingspan can be 4 times that wide. And most of not all of them are wider than that. Silly rabbit.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      yea lets just forget this whole avaition thing. just a passing fad. you are truly an idiot

      October 4, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil

      Proof of concept...not a production model.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • IHopper

      This picture was taken outside of a hanger in TX where they filmed the moon landing...

      October 4, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • rmsbl4

      @ Boston Bean Smasher How many of those COMMERCIAL act with 4 times the wing span are built to carry only 4 people?

      October 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AW

    I see NASA gives taxpayer money away. NASA MUST BE SHUT DOWN.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
    • John _Atlanta GA

      This is how we move ahead. Innovation, creation, growth, and science. You wingnuts would still be living in caves if we where not all laughing at your ignorance.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • BTS78

      Yup, Shut NASA down. Great Idea there Buddy. Then the US can fall behind the rest of the world in ANOTHER category.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • DH

      It's called innovation and it cost you personally something on the order of $0.00001.

      October 4, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      you are truly an idiot with no vision. thank god no one takes you seriously

      October 4, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill in Florida

      Sorry, but you're an idiot.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Come on guys, Obviously AW is joking. No one who would read this article would have that point of view.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • IHopper

      AW, you are too stupid to be believed. You must be joking. First people say privatize everything, then when private companies are rewarded for innovation that isn't happening at a gov. agency, you want to shut it down. Is that you Sarah? How's Todd?

      October 4, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Dandy

      So if you get money back from the IRS from your tax return should we shut them down also? You are clueless.

      October 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jj

    @ cedar rapids is that iowa??? lived there for 12 years. you guys still have all those abandoned houses from the flood? a dam shame

    October 4, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jj

    how did you like bruce aunie in the movie the crazies? thought that was great!

    October 4, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dogwood

    Battery powered/solar powered experimental plans have already been developed and proven with a through the night and recharge in the day flight. The limit to the length of the flight was just the piolets enduarnce. This one is only showing how energy efficient a flight can be.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Raven

    Air travel is not necessary. We conservatives need to shut down these privately funded so-called advances. We also need to stop funding all the unnecessary education in this country.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Rafael

      Let me guess: anything not related to the bible is unnecessary, right? Believe it or not, the computer you're typing on right now was conceived by a majority of people who are not conservatives. Don't be a hypocrite: stop using technology made by liberals.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      raven you forgot to take your medication today. be a good patient

      October 4, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Wow, no one recognizes sarcasm anymore. Raven is just giving a parody of his view of an ultraconservative. That is obvious.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Scottish mama

    Yay electric. Boo to nuclear. take away the nuclear and innovation will be neccessity.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • boogietime

      Where do you think the electric is going to come from?

      October 4, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry A.

    @bert f.
    Yeah, those Wright brothers only built a one passenger airplane without seats. That was "highly impractical" and couldn't be improved. They couldn't take off or land except in a big sandy field. Oh wait, it was a prototype and it WAS improved. Just like this new electric airplane.

    IF you ever invent something, bert, someone will be sure to point out its' every flaw.

    October 4, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • billyheddin

      Yeh, this is a fantastic achievement !!! I can't wait to see their future advancements !

      October 4, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. Phillip Brame

    I think it is great. I think it is about time that american innovation and science take its rightful place in the forefront of technology and innovation. This will revolutionize flight as we know it. Just a prediction!!!!

    October 4, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish mama

      Great Prediction.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      Yeah, except the parent company is based out of Slovenia.

      October 4, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • vlasta5

      Phillip, so very sorry, but NO THIS IS NOT AN AMERICAN COMPANY!!!!!!The blub who wrote this article must be a 90 year old person with a trouble of hearing. I can assume this 100%, because that is what old people here in the States hear and repeat when I tell them where I am from. SLOVENIA! And they say Pennslyvania???? No, it is Slovenia. They have no idea where that is. But, back to the article. They, PIPISTREL from Ajdovscina SLOVENIA won NASA's challange for the forth time already. Do all yourselves some favor and do some research of your own, and then come here and leave a post. 🙂

      October 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scottish mama

    Electric trains?
    Electric houses?
    Will we need the utility companies?
    That is what is holding us back.
    Electric and oil companies and their lobbyist.
    They are trying to find out how they can make more money by making it less *on the market* for the average consumer and how they can make the most monty.

    October 4, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  13. michael

    a.w. you are an idiot

    October 4, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • BigErnie

      @Michael ... What a brilliant, well-reasoned response.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Interesting design, getting the passenger space out of the prop airflow with a single engine. Tricky for balance and comfort, though.
    Next steps:
    * Twin engines, put the passengers back in the middle, and double the capacity.
    * Adaptive wings (shape and/or sweep) to improve top speed.
    [Wings that can be swept back really helps with parking at small airports too.]

    October 4, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      Good ideas there David. Somehow I like to think you are in College or Grad School or early in your engineering career.

      October 4, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. joe

    why the negative and stupid comments about this airplane?this is not a commercial or private aircraft. its a concept plane to prove it can be done. in the future with the technology developed here better private and commercial planes will be developed. is that so hard to understand? is like blaming the wright brothers for not making a 787 the first time.....

    October 4, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      It's just the way people are on the Internet. It doesn't really have anything to do with the story at all, they're just looking for a soapbox to rant on.

      October 4, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7