I think this is pretty awesome. A plane that is covered in solar panels and 100% solar powered just flew for 26 hours in a test run before landing. Tackling the aviation industry’s pollution has always been a big challenge. Another for the industry is addressing the fact that as oil prices rise, it will make air travel more expensive thus lowing demand. When oil was well over $100 a barrel in 2008, the industry took a real hard hit. They can’t make it in a world of constrained carbon emissions and peak oil if they don’t make advances like this. Excerpts below…
“A solar-powered plane successfully completed a crucial round-the-clock test flight today in the skies over Switzerland, with its inventors hailing it as a milestone for aviation using only the clean and renewable energy of the sun.
The carbon fiber Solar Impulse prototype, with the 262-foot wingspan of an Airbus A340 and the weight of a midsize car, landed after 26 hours in the air at 9 a.m. local time, completing the world’s first night flight with a solar plane.”
“The aircraft flew across Switzerland for over a day to allow its 12,000 solar panels to soak up as much energy as possible, charging the batteries enough to keep the plane aloft through the dark of night.
“Everything went very well, it’s really unbelievable,” an elated pilot, Andre Borschberg, said shortly after exiting the bathtub-sized cockpit. “We demonstrated it is feasible to fly day and night, which means this technology can be used to save energy and to produce energy, and that’s exactly what we wanted to show.”