Taurus Electro Glides into the Eco-Future

The Taurus Electro’s teardrop-shaped fuselage is certainly impressive. Yes, many other glider manufacturers opt for teardrop designs, but Pipistrel, the company behind the Taurus Electro, appears to have stretched this shape as far as possible. This streamlined configuration can leave no one in doubt of the aircraft’s aerodynamic superiority.

Contrast the Taurus Electro with the other plane in this issue, the DA62. In some ways, they are two sides of the same coin in terms of crafting a modern-looking vehicle. Both seem to have a space-age influence. While the DA62 looks like the vehicle that futurists would envisage based on the proportions of 1950s rockets, the Taurus Electro seems to take the concept of a 1980s shuttle to its most extreme possible conclusion. Or, to put it in a more philosophical manner, one reflects the idealism of the earliest days of spacefaring, and the other amplifies the innovations of the start of the era of long-term space occupancy.

Much like how the reusability of the shuttle innovated space travel, the Taurus Electro has provided some interesting innovations for the aviation industry. The fact that it is the first electric two-seat aircraft to enter production is impressive. Yet this only scratches the surface of how it has moved aviation in a bold new direction.

Consider the accumulated cost savings, which many will certainly consider to be an even more impressive design achievement. Pipistrel made the affordability of the Taurus Electro a long-term consideration. Thanks to the glider’s solar trailer and self-launching capability, there are no regular power cost considerations with the glider’s usage. Instead, the solar trailer charges the vehicle in as short a timeframe as five hours with no need to be connected to a power source other than the sun. Basically, if society were to collapse, then the Taurus Electro could feasibly continue running for many years. This power source also makes the glider emission-free. Other advantages that come with the vehicle’s electric system include the fact that it can use a shorter runway, climb faster, and perform stronger at high altitudes.

Perhaps the greatest design achievement of the Taurus Electro is the hybrid battery management system. Pipistrel’s engineers created an in-house solution that had, in Pipistel’s own words, “tighter tolerances than commercially available systems,” resulting in superior performance and battery life. When a battery cell begins malfunctioning, the battery management system also alerts the pilot, ensuring that unexpected losses of power will not be a catastrophic issue. During flight, the battery management system controls battery cell temperature and ventilation to optimize performance. A further feature that protects these batteries is the power inverter/motor controller. As the name implies, these also protect and aid the performance of the motor.

With a price tag of around $151,000, the Taurus Electro also makes it easy to imagine just how prevalent air travel will become in the following decades. Of course, for most, that is a significant sum of money. However, the truth is that it is now possible to take to the skies, with zero fuel costs, for one-third of the average price of an American home in 2023. Future innovations will surely bring costs down significantly, allowing greater numbers of people to afford aircraft. In that sense, the Taurus Electro could well be remembered as the plane that ushered many more people to the skies, in much the same way as how the shuttle brought significantly more people to space than ever before.

For over 30 years, Pipistrel has been manufacturing aircraft, expanding from simple hang gliders in Slovenia to a range of airplanes across the world. The Taurus Electro continues its mission of finding new aviation solutions.

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Author: Graphis