Pipistrel has announced that a hybrid-electric version of its four-seat Panthera has completed the first phase of its flight test campaign as part of Europe’s Modular Approach to Hybrid Electric Propulsion Architecture (MAHEPA) project. According to MAHEPA, the focus of the first flight test phase was powertrain and flight performance. The hybrid-electric Panthera demonstrator has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,315 kg (2,900 pounds), top cruise speed of 177 knots and range of 350 NM.
“In mid-October 2021 the ‘MAHEPA Panthera,’ integrated with the novel, SAF-capable, hybrid-electric powertrain developed during the project, took-off from Cerklje airport, in Slovenia, successfully demonstrating the possibility of local zero-emission flights by performing all-electric take-offs,” Pipistrel said. “Expectations set by prior ground-tests were only confirmed by the powerful, yet quiet performance of the MAHEPA Panthera, which has all the characteristics to become a flying test-bed for future developments in hybrid aviation.”
MAHEPA launched in 2017 with the goal of developing “novel, modular and scalable hybrid-electric powertrains capable of running on alternative fuels or on hydrogen with zero emissions” and is due to wrap up later this week. Project participants include Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, Compact Dynamics, DLR, H2Fly, Politecnico di Milano, TU Delft, the University of Maribor and the University of Ulm. As previously reported by AVweb, MAHEPA also flew its hydrogen-powered HY4 research aircraft for the first time in 2020.