Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Solar Plane Prototype in Test Flight Before It Navigates the Globe

"A prototype solar-powered plane has made its first full test flight - coming closer to the goal of using solar energy to fly around the world."
BBC reports:
The Solar Impulse, with a wingspan similar to that of a super-jumbo jet but weighing the same as a saloon car, took off from a Swiss airfield. The plane's wings are covered by solar cells which power four electric motors.

Its designers hope a slightly larger production model will circumnavigate the globe in two years' time. The test flight was intended to verify that the plane's behaviour tallied with simulations. "With such a large and light plane never having flown before, the aircraft's flight behaviour remains unexplored," the flight team said in a statement. READ MORE
Round-the-world balloonist Bertrand Piccard is leading the project and intends to pilot the plane along with co-founder Andre Borschberg.