Pipistrel Unveils Panthera

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One of the major product announcements at Aero 2012 in Friedrichshafen is a fast, efficient four-place design from Slovenia. Pipistrel unveiled its Panthera and aims to take a slice of the high-speed cruiser market from Cirrus with an aircraft it says will cruise at 200 knots on 10 gallons an hour of unleaded gas for 1,000 nm with all the seats filled. The fully equipped aircraft will sell for less than $500,000, well below the list price for a decked-out SR22. "Panthera will shake the World of General Aviation, setting the benchmark for efficiency, cabin comfort and safety for others to follow," said Pipistrel CEO Ivo Boscarol. This is Pipistrel's first foray into the Part 91 world with a fully certified aircraft and there were some unique challenges in that process.

Slovenia doesn't have a bilateral certification agreement with the U.S. so the Panthera will be built about 20 miles from the company's main plant in Ajdrovscina across the border in Italy, which does have an agreement with the FAA. The first models of the Panthera will fly with a Lycoming IO390 fuel-injected engine but the ultimate goal is to offer them with hybrid and pure electric powerplants. "Hybrid and electric aircraft are the future of aviation with Panthera being the best airframe to demonstrate the potential of this technology," Boscarol said.