Hybrid Panthera tests successful

Pipistrel's Panthera hybrid-electric test flight

The Panthera is normally powered by a 260hp Lycoming IO-540 - Credit: Pipistrel

Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel has successfully completed the first round of test flights of its Panthera test-bed, which is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system.

The sleek four-seat tourer flew several times from Cerklje airport in Slovenia last October, some of the takeoffs being all-electric. The power unit is one of two being developed by the EU-funded consortium MAHEPA (Modular Approach to Hybrid-Electric Propulsion Architecture). 

The powertrain uses one fossil fuel-driven generator to charge the batteries and power the electric motor, in addition to a second generator that relies on fuel cells to produce ‘zero-emission’ power. 

The Panthera is currently available as a non-certified aircraft. According to Pipistrel, EASA certification of the ‘conventional’ piston-engine model is expected for 2022, the aircraft powered by a 260hp Lycoming IO-540.