The sky has opened-up like never before and borders are falling every day. The need of traveling long distance, quickly and efficiently has never been greater. Yet, who likes to be stuck at a big airport, going through long lines of security check to board the aeroplane to the point of call? Imagine a fast yet extremely economic aeroplane, which can take you and your friends, collegues or business partners anywhere you want, whenever you want. Imagine an aeroplane, that can fully take advantage of small, short-runway airfields that you bring you closer to destination than ever and open a whole new world of opportunities.
By Glenn Pew, Video Editor/Podcast by AVweb
Pipistrel says its four-seat Panthera will pull a 200-knot cruise from a 200 hp engine over 1,000 nautical miles with full seats in a certified airframe — before 2014. We asked them why people should believe they can do it.
An aeroplane, designed meticulously to keep you safe, comfortable, is quiet and friendly to the environment. An innovative aeroplane, which instantly catches attention. Your quiet, high performance bubble of safety, your personal time machine.
|Panthera||Panthera Hybrid||Panthera Electro|
|Category||Utility (+4.4 g)||Utility (+4.4 g)||Utility (+4.4 g)|
|Powerplant||Lycoming IO-390||Hybrid 145 kW||Pure electric 145 kW|
|Rated power||210 HP||195 HP (equivalent)||195 HP (equivalent)|
|MTOM||1200 kg / 2640 lbs||1200 kg / 2640 lbs||1200 kg / 2640 lbs|
|Useful payload||520 kg / 1145 lbs||270 kg / 595 lbs||200 kg / 440 lbs|
|Full fuel payload||345 kg / 760 lbs||n/a||n/a|
|Wing span||10.86 m / 35 ft 8 in||10.86 m / 35 ft 8 in||10.86 m / 35 ft 8 in|
|Length||8.07 m / 26 ft 6 in||8.07 m / 26 ft 6 in||8.07 m / 26 ft 6 in|
|Height||1.90 m / 6 ft 3 in||1.90 m / 6 ft 3 in||1.90 m / 6 ft 3 in|
|Wing area||10.9 m2/ 117 sqft||10.9 m2/ 117 sqft||10.9 m2/ 117 sqft|
|Stall speed (flaps extended)||109 km/h / 59 kts||109 km/h / 59 kts||109 km/h / 59 kts|
|stall speed (flaps retracted)||118 km/h / 64 kts||118 km/h / 64 kts||118 km/h / 64 kts|
|manoeuvring velocity Va||248 km/h / 134 kts||248 km/h / 134 kts||248 km/h / 134 kts|
|Turbulence penetration Vb||324 km/h / 175 kts||324 km/h / 175 kts||324 km/h / 175 kts|
|VNE||407 km/h / 220 kts||407 km/h / 220 kts||407 km/h / 220 kts|
|Typical cruise speed (TAS)||374 km/h / 202 kts||263 km/h / 142 kts||218 km/h / 118 kts|
|Climb rate at MTOW||6.1 m/s / 1200 fpm||5.7 m/s / 1140 fpm||5.7 m/s / 1140 fpm|
|Takeoff run||365 m / 1200 ft||385 m / 1265 ft||385 m / 1265 ft|
|Takeoff distance (50 ft obst.)||670 m / 2200 ft||700 m / 2300 ft||700 m / 2300 ft|
|Landing distance (50 ft obst.)||570 m / 1900 ft||570 m / 1900 ft||570 m / 1900 ft|
|Range at cruise speed, 4 people aboard (incl. 45 min reserve)||>1900 km / >1025 NM||1220 km / 660 NM||400 km / 215 NM|
|Service ceiling||6,100 m/ FL 200||4000 m / FL 130||4000 m / FL 130|
Years ago, people said it is impossible to produce an aircraft light and streamlined enough to be safe and efficient. We did it.
People said it is impossible to fly around the World in a small aeroplane without assistance. We did it.
People also said it is impossible to produce an aircraft fast enough and efficient enough to be successful at the NASA Centennial Challenges. We went ahead and did what nobody did before – we won the NASA Challenges twice.
Now they say it is impossible to make a practical electric-powered aircraft presently. We did it already back in 2007 with the first electric twoseater in the World. Clearly we see and do things differently and have a pioneering vision.
We do not immitate, we innovate!
Now, with a quarter of a century of experience, we are presenting a fast, safe, quiet and comfortable aeroplane, which can use runways shorter than ever before and go the full distance with four people aboard. An aeroplane, which is ready for the future and consumes 40% less fuel while going faster, further. This is our idea how a modern, four seat CS/FAR-23 certified aeroplane should be like. Panthera is making it a reality.
Panthera is designed by applying the most modern design and construction techniques, on top of 25 years of knowledge, experience and excellence in building aircraft.
Panthera’s organic curves are a product of optimisation through advanced, in-house developed computer tools, where each detail is designed to ensure minimum drag and maximum efficiency. This allowed for the Panthera to be designed and flown in a virtual environment with great degree of accuracy even before the first component was produced.
Using state of the art CAD tools, all the aircraft components were packaged into a minimum and therefore highly efficient shape, while keeping the passenger cabin spacious and comfortable. It is the first aircraft in its class to be designed to be comfortable for four passengers of any body type.
Realizing the complex shapes and structures of Panthera was possible only by using modern rapid prototyping/milling techniques. By directly translating the CAD models into complex shapes it is ensured that the predicted aerodynamic properties of the aircraft are realized, and that the structural integrity matches the results of the finite element predicitions.
Attention to details is visible also when it comes to airframe components and equipment. The propeller and exhaust system, for example, are specially optimised to ensure minimum noise and maximum performance, reducing the aircraft’s environmental footprint and increasing cabin comfort. Panthera also features all electric systems for component actuation. Its titanum trailing-link undercarriage, flaps and trim are all electrically operated, resulting in low weight and maximum reliability by removing the need for complex and heavy hydraulic systems. All internal and external lighting is realised using state-of-the-art LED technology, providing for better clarity, recognition and feel.
Panthera achieves unprecedented efficiency through careful aerodynamic shaping, retractable titanum undercarriage, lightweight advanced composite structure, a tailor made propeller and a dedicated performance exhaust system. Efficiency does not only reflect itself in a low fuel consuption of just 10 gallons per hour at 200 kts, but is translated directly into more speed for the same power. No other four seat aircraft exists that flies this fast on the same engine! For the owner/operator this represents significantly lower operating costs and simplified maintenence.
The 1000 NM range is available with any payload, something which pilots of four seat aeroplanes have been wishing for. Robust design of the undercarriage and low overall weight allows for operations from short grass strips, taking you as close as possible to your desired destination. The engine is ready for the future, able to accept unleaded fuels and meeting the future environmental requirements. Hybrid and electric models further reduce the take-off noise footprint by taking advantage of the pure-electric take-off.
Powered by the modern, yet proven and reliable Lycoming IO-390 engine, Panthera is the statement of efficiency – cruising at 200 kts with a fuel consumption of only 10 gallons per hour instead of the »usual« 17 gallons of the competition. The powerful, yet lightweight engine can run on unleaded fuel and is ready for the future! With its titanium trailing-link retractable undercarriage, Pantera is designed to take advantage of short, grass runways and maximise the comfort of operation on longer, hard surfaces. Payload and range is never compromised – with four people aboard, Panthera will easily reach destinations more than 1000 NM away!
The 145 kW hybrid-electric powertrain, supported by the state-of-the-art battery system and range-extender generator unit, which is a special in-house development for the Panthera is a true revolution in aviation! The ability of noiseless, pure-electric take-offs and landings is coupled with uncompromised range characteristics. Short-field, powerful climb, extreme aeroefficiency and long-range, which are signature to Panthera are further enhanced with the revolutionary hybrid powertrain. Panthera Hybrid represents a quantum leap forward in thinking and will pave the way for the future of aviaion!
This version of Panthera with its pure-electric 145 kW powertrain is a treat for the high-tech enthusiasts and those to whom the environment matters. The goal is to demonstrate the ability of covering 400 km (215 NM), quietly, efficiently, with absolutely zero emissions and for a fraction of cost. The platform is open and ready to accept future generations of battery technologies, which will increase the operating range. Electric flight is ready and Panthera Electro will hopefully shift the authorities to rightfully accept electric flight and enable clean, quiet and cheap flight.
One of the major design points of Panthera is the state-of-the art ergonomic cabin. All features provide superior comfort and usability for people of all sizes. Access is easy via three large gull-wing style doors, two in the front for pilot and copilot and one for the back row of seats. Pilot and copilot seats are adjustable, as are the rudder pedals. The central stick is ergonomic and provides the sporty feel signature to Panthera. Back seats are very wide and feature a 2+1 seating arrangement. There is a supersized – standard cabin luggage sized – cargo door, but the cargo can also be accessed from the cockpit during the flight! The interior is furnished with highest quality leather and LED lighting for exclusive feel and functionality. Climate is controlled thanks to the on-board air-condition with automatic ventilation. It will keep you cool during the summer and warm during the winter. Also special is the solar-powered ventilation which keeps the cabin cool when Panthera is parked outside in the sun!
The instrument panel is designed to embrace the pilot and provide ultimate sensation and outside visibility. The view from the cockpit is completely redefined by a using a single pillar between the pilots – this way the visibility forward and sidewards is free of obstacle, greatly increasing the safetly of flight.
There are three functional areas on the full IFR panel, the upper back-up/annunciator area, the PFD/MFD area and the communication stack. The avionics are gathered around a Garmin G500 series PFD/MFD synthetic vision screen and the new state of the art Garmin GTN series touch-screen Flight Management Systems. The ease of use and reliability of Garmin avionics is second to none, but the cockpit enviorment of the Panthera further enhances the experience. The GTN 750 and 635 dual COM/NAV feature full touch screen controls, which maximise screen size and allow for simplified naviation and graphical flight planning. Draw a path on the navigation screen with your finger and Panthera’s full featured autopilot can follow it. It’s magic! In addition, the fully integrated modular cockpit provides all terrain, traffic and weather alerts (in aeras where applicable). Transponder and 3D audiopanel are integrated and courtesy of the Garmin GTN 750.
Materials and technology
Each detail of Panthera’s graceful lines has been thoroughly aerodynamically optimized using customized, state of the art computational fluid dynamics software, resulting in a smooth and clean shape. The specially designed wing airfoils are optimized for cruise efficiency and therefore speed, while at the same time ensuring high maximum lift and docile stall characteristics. Its instantly recognizable T-tail ensures low interference drag and helps improve spin characteristics by preventing the horizontal stabilizer from shaddowing the rudder at high angles of attack.
Realizing Panthera’s aerodynamic shape while still ensuring maximum safety and keeping the weight low would be impossible without the use of advanced next-gen materials. The majority of the structure of the aircraft is made from carbon-fibre composites, with antistatic materials and kevlar used in areas where it matters. The retractable trailing-link undercarriage is built from titanium, giving it superior strength and energy absorption properties at minimum system weight. All actuation systems on the aircraft are fully electric, avoiding the need for complex and heavy hydraulics.
Panthera is your personal high performance bubble of safety! As part of the rich serial equipment, Panthera features a full-airframe parachute rescue system, which was specially developed so it can be deployed and both low- and high speeds as well as low altitudes.
The cabin has been engineered as a safety cell/roll bar with built-in energy absorbtion zones, providing superior safety to the occupants in event of an accident. The seats and safety belts are engineered to latest +26G CS/FAR-23 certification standards. Immediately noticable is the increadible view from the cockpit. By having just one central pillar, pilot’s view foreward and sideward is virtually unobstructed, thus greatly improving the safety of flight. The ergonomic cockpit comes with special annunciator panels, improving situational awarenes when it comes to different audial and visual alarms (terrain, stall, overspeed, engine issues, etc.).
Panthera’s performance also contributes to safety – the lightweight structure, powered by powerful engines mean that the you will reach safe speeds and altitudes much quicker than usual, reducing time spent in the »critical zones«. Special attention has been payed to realise the aerodynamic shape, which gives Panthera excellent handling at low speeds and superior stall/post-stall characteristics. Also important are tailored solutions to simplify maintenence, thus reducing the probability of mistakes occuring during the check-ups.