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Pipistrel’s much anticipated Panthera four-place GA aircraft had its first flight April 4 and continues testing in Slovenia. The all-composite aircraft flew for 54 minutes from the airport at Cerklje ob Krki where the test team, including test pilot Mirko Anel and co-pilot Sao Knez, got help from the Slovenian Armed Forces. The aircraft reportedly performed as expected during the first few flights. “Both pilots agreed the handling was straightforward and pilot friendly, with parameters exactly as predicted,” said a Pipistrel news release, which added that the flights so far offer “reassurance that all target performance goals will be met.” Those goals are lofty.
The Panthera’s design specs call for a 200-knot cruise at 10 gallons per hour with four people. It has a range of about 1,000 nm. It’s powered by a Lycoming IO-390 and has retractable trailing link titanium landing gear. “We knew for a long time that we were capable of developing and producing aircraft larger and more capable than ultralights/LSAs,” said Pipistrel founder and CEO Ivo Boscarol. “Panthera is proof that Pipistrel’s team can indeed compete with the most eminent global general aviation producers.” The Panthera will also be available in hybrid and electric versions.