Solar powered aircraft to undergo night flight trials

16. June 2010 | Research & Development, Markets & Trends | By:  Becky Stuart

A solar powered aircraft, which flew its first successful flight in April, is due to undergo night flight trials.

The Solar Impulse aircraft.

The solar aircraft is being prepared for an around the world trip. Image: Solar Impulse.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA – developed to prove the potential of renewable energies - has already completed eight tests flights. The purpose of the next stage is to demonstrate that it is possible to fly day and night with an aircraft only propelled by solar energy and, in this way, come close to the notion of perpetual flight.

“To fly day and night with a solar aircraft is a human and technological challenge that has never been met so far, and an essential stage of the project”, says André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse. “Demonstrating that we can fly a whole day and night will then permit us to fly several successive cycles and come close to perpetual flight.”

Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse added: “The big question will be whether the pilot will be able to save sufficient energy as to fly right through the night. These night flights in an aircraft propelled uniquely by solar energy are intended to demonstrate the potential of the renewable energies and the technologies that will gradually enable us to diminish our dependence on oil.”

The analysis of the Solar Impulse HB-SIA flight results will serve to configure and build a second aircraft with which to fly right round the world in five stages in 2013.

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