By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Pipistrel said this week its electric-powered, two-seat self-launching glider, the Taurus Electro G2, is now available for sale. The company, based in Slovenia, is also offering a solar trailer for the airplane, which can charge it up in about five hours. The 40-kilowatt motor is powered by lithium-technology batteries that are monitored by Pipistrel's own battery-management system, which features data-logging and battery health forecasting. The electric motor can be retrofitted into existing gas-powered Taurus gliders, the company said, and it will be offered for integration into third-party platforms as well. The system provides power for up to 17 minutes. Once the airplane is gliding, the propeller retracts into the fuselage with the push of a button.
The Electro G2 is the first version of the company's electric glider ready for production, but the "G2" or "second generation" appellation reflects substantial changes made from the original prototype to this production-ready design, the company said. After extensive testing of the prototype, the company decided to "rethink, redesign and implement completely new solutions" to create the G2, resulting in "much better reliability, handling and performance." Both the airplane and its solar trailer will debut in April at Aero 2011 in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The aircraft will compete for the 100,000-Euro Berblinger Prize, which will reward an aircraft that incorporates innovative ideas with regard to environmental sustainability, economy, safety and/or construction.