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. Norse1990

    Reading many of the posting regarding this technology provides sad commentary on the state of America's collective conscious. There was a time when we Americans were proud of what could invent, achieve, and develop in our country. It was understood that it took time to develop effective products from new technology. One can only suppose that Americans today would have completely turned there back on Henry Ford's Model "A" and said "Who needs it? My horse and buggy work perfectly."

    October 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • BBQ

      Your comment is a sad commentary on the state of grammar. They'd turn their backs, not "there" backs.

      October 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      I definitely dismiss opinions, no matter how noteworthy, for simple spelling mistakes. It just makes so much cents two due sew.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      I'll tell you who needs it. With a dual fusellage, you can put those passengers with noice kids on a different wing.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. pmmarion

    Norse, how right you are. America is headed for a big fall.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. UHhello

    This is quite a big step in the right direction for America and entrepenures!!

    October 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      We will have company, probably.Every Democracy that has morphed into Socialism will be on the chopping block.It is the nature of the beast.A good example is the demonstrations now againest millionaires and Wall Street.There is but one alternative to being a millionaire.It is surprising that it has taken this long for people to figure out Wall Street is not heaven and was not heaven before they lost their marbles.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    Great job!!!! Please don't stop there..

    October 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Phillip Brame

    I do not think America is heading for a downfall and this new technology proves opposite. I tell you though that the younger americans if they do not get off of their rearends and start producing something other than unbreathable gas we as a country will become a consuming country rather than a producing one. You think there are complaints now!!!!
    This country has produced some of thew worlds greatest inventions and we can still do it today. We as a people just have to decide what we are producers or consumers. I do not think I need to explain the difference.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • RPP

      Agree 100 %. We have become mostly 'Service' industry country instead of a 'Producing' country. One issue is free trade. GATT agreement among countries only works if there are NO TARIFFS. Since most countries have tariffs 'Free Trade' is a great theory..does not work in practice. Lets go back to 'producing'!!

      October 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • vr13

      Being able to put together a new aircraft has little to do with generation of unemployed people whose dreams are no longer achieavable in the country with overall declining economy. But you did have a good idea – can we use all that "unbearable gas" to propel and power a new generation of planes? And since the gas you refer to is technically a "green house" gas, could we still call those planes green?

      October 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DrDoITT

    Lets wait for Barack HUSSEIN Obama to donate 1 billion dollars to this company.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • redneckssuck

      Nothing ventured, nothing gained

      October 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • BBQ

      Thank you for your inherently racist non-sequiter. I can only assume you don't know what a non-sequiter is, you should google it. While you're using google, search for who actually started the government bailouts that you're very tenuously alluding to with your post.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ca Ed

      Sorry to disagree. Nobama hasn't donated a nickle to anything (that I know of).

      What he has done is to waste government funds in the form of loans to tech companies. I say waste because so far none of the projects he has backed have produced *any* products that can be tested to see if they are a success or a failure.

      Until the market can see, taste, feel, experience or some how use the result of this R&D any and all federal monies are only a job program for favored lawyers and politicians.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • bigreddog

      I am happy to see that you went to all that effort to find out President Obama's midddle name!

      October 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BobZemko

    Must have one heck of an extension cord.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob Schaeffer

    A generation of divorce and many single parents has hurts us dearly. I am not saying people don't have reasons for getting divorced, etc. Single parents typically don't have the time or the resources to handle the full gamet of raising children, there are exceptions. Many single parents have left child rearing up to the schools, which has left the US in a rut. I hope and believe that we can get back.

    October 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JGNY

    Where do you plug in at a thousand feet?

    October 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      WE might yet re-discover our feet in the future.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bourneblogger

    It's sad that all of these great ideas to conserve fuel will just be met with high prices per gallon to sustain the loss of business... If the technology in this plane's engine b/c standard in future vehicles, gas will cost $100 per gallon rather than per barrel...

    October 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      The biggest rip off to the taxpayer and driving public is alcohol additives to our fuel..!0 percent added alcohol as a filler only, cuts power and milage, damages critical parts in the engine.Besides that, your cornflakes have gone out of sight at the grocery store.

      October 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      All the states now are using the old inspection law to find out how many miles you drive in a year and to collect taxes on Betsy..They don't care what is falling off the old clunker.It is for the time when enough electrics or hybrids get on the road you will be taxed by the miles driven not by a gasoline tax.

      October 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phillip Brame

    Rob I agree with you %100 but that can no longer be an excuse, you see I was raised by a widowed mother from the age of 9 up until I was 17 at which time I enlisted in the Marine Corps and began my adult journey. My mother had alot of help raising me and my 2 brothers and four sisters. We were raised by a community of people from the teachers to the policemen to the banker to the church the supermarket owner to uncles and aunts. The old african saying is as true now as it has ever been (It takes a community to raise a child) . A woman can not raise a boy child to be a man she is not eqquiped for such things. As a youngman I watched as the local Subway station went from every man in the community riding to work in the mornings to it becoming less and less men everyday until up to where there are very few if any riding the trains to work today, it is very sad. A communities worth is judged by the amount of men in that community work for a living and pay tax. That is why a jobs bill is very important NOW. I understand and agree with your comment but we as men must rise above all of that. It can be done.

    October 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TheThinker

    Electric planes? Electric?? Is that what makes this a -current- event?

    October 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wally Balloo

      Plane-ly. Of course, they're working on a wing and a prayer.

      October 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. crocodile

    where's the real info range, weight carried, photovoltaic? chargeable, # of passengers, materials?

    October 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jorge washinsen

    Do you remember when the first Toyotos were imported over here and were getting better milage than they do now? You were not exactly comfortable nor did you have room for your kids but you got good milage with 30 cents a gallon for fuel.Some bought Yugos ,They got excellent milage because they very seldom started or made a trip long enough running to burn any fuel.Sort of like this new plane but every trip starts with the first step.

    October 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wally Balloo

      Thankfully, the naysayers didn't deter Wright Brothers – what? no passengers? no luggage? no in-flight movies or meals? You are right, we need to start someplace!

      October 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. George Busch

    They had to fly 200 miles in under 2 hours, that's quite an accomplishment.I would like to know more about the energy sources, charge time and motors.And since it is a twin fuselage aircraft, how difficult is it to fly? I heard those old P-38 lightnings were difficult to pilot.

    October 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
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