Electric Plane Wins $1.35 Million Prize from NASA

NASA has just announced the winner of its CAFE Green Flight Challenge. The electric plane from the Pipistrel-USA.com team won the top prize of $1.35 million after two days of competition held last week at the Sonoma County Airport in California. The eGenius team took home the second place prize of $120,000.

NASA said in a statement:

“NASA congratulates Pipistrel-USA.com for proving that ultra-efficient aviation is within our grasp. We’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.”

Wired reports that 14 teams signed up for the CAFE Green Flight Challenge but only four made it out to California. Despite the small turnout, the electric planes still wowed the engineers at NASA. The electric planes both flew more than 200 miles at around 100 mph while using less than the equivalent of a gallon of gas. Wired reports that the Pipistrel team and the eGenius team both used approximately the equivalent of a half gallon of gasoline.

Jack W. Langelaan, team leader of Team Pipistrel-USA.com, said in today’s award announcement:

“Two years ago, the thought of flying 200 miles at 100 mph in an electric aircraft was pure science fiction. Now we are all looking forward to the future of electric aviation.”

The Pipistrel Taurus G4 was developed and built in Slovenia to test the electric aviation technology but it won’t be put into production. The electric powertrain that drives the plane, however, will find its way into a four-seater plane that the company hopes to have flying next year.

Here’s a video about the Pipistrel Taurus G4.

Would you fly in an electric plane?

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