April 18, 2012
By Thomas A. Horne
The first flight-test airplane of Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel’s Panthera attracted hordes of gawkers at the Aero show. The four-seat, 202-knot, 210-horsepower Lycoming IO-390-powered airplane is projected to be certified in both Europe and the United States in 2015. The airplane has a carbon-fiber and Kevlar composite construction and comes with a ballistic parachute system, gull-wing doors, and a panel built around Garmin’s G500 avionics suite.
Computer-aided design (CAD) technology is one reason why the Panthera has such sleek lines, a Pipistrel spokesman said. Drag is so low that the airplane can cruise at 200 knots and burn just 10 gph. Range is posted as 1,000 nautical miles and the airplane will also be approved for landing on grass landing strips.
Pipistrel, known for its eco-friendly design philosophy, has other plans for future iterations of the Panthera, including a hybrid avgas-electrically powered model as well as one that’s completely battery powered.
The Panthera's price is set at about $513,500 at current exchange rates; Pipistrel is offering a 5-percent discount for purchases made at Aero. The aircraft also is available as an experimental, with factory build-assist: A version equipped with a Skyview SV1000 panel is priced at $435,500, and one with a Garmin G500 panel is priced at $461,500, both with the build-assist.
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.
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