Lindbergh Prize Goes To Pipistrel

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Pipistrel's Taurus Electro won the 2011 Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize for "best electric aircraft" at the Aero Friedrichshafen trade show last week in Germany. The prize, awarded by Erik Lindbergh's nonprofit group, recognized the Electro's "plug and play" electric power system, enhanced by solar panels on the aircraft trailer that allow the system to recharge using clean energy. "The integration and safety features are excellent and can serve as a model for industry standards for electric aircraft," according to LEAP. The prize aims to encourage innovators through recognition, but no cash is awarded. The two finalists for the prize were the Hugues Duval electric Cri-Cri and the Sunseeker II solar airplane.

Pipistrel said in a news release it was proud of the award and hopes it will help to change the perception of electric aircraft as "just expensive toys for environmentalist pilots." The Electro is offered at the same price and with the same performance as its petrol-engine counterpart, the company said. Also recognized by the LEAP awards at Aero were the LZ Design Front Engine Sustainer system, for best electric propulsion, and the Solar Impulse team for outstanding achievement. The LZ Design system is featured on the Alisport Silent 2 Electro self-launching sailplane, and uses battery packs to power a small folding prop mounted on the nose. Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse team are working to build a solar-powered electric airplane and fly it around the world. EAA is sponsoring an Electric Flight Prize to be awarded at AirVenture in July, with $60,000 in cash prizes.