Whether they've been crossing the English Channel, traversing the Alps, or attempting to fly around the world, solar-powered planes have been in the news a lot this year. While the aircraft are certainly fascinating and inspiring, there's no way that most of would ever be able to afford one … or is there? If a new Kickstarter campaign is successful, you'll be able to get a Volta Flyer solar airplane for just US$40. The only thing is, it'll be a little on the small side.
This July, PC Aero’s single-seater solar-electric Elektra One Solar airplane got some media attention by flying across the Alps in both directions within one trip. Starting in 2009, however, Solar Flight president Eric Raymond took his solar-electric Sunseeker II over the mountain range a number of times. This August, he did his own over-and-back trip … although this time he flew his two-seater Sunseeker Duo, which allowed him to bring his wife Irena along as a second pilot.
It's been quite a month for electric aircraft. First, the Solar Impulse 2 broke distance and duration records when it flew from Japan to Hawaii. Then, two competing teams both claimed to have made the world's first electric flight across the English Channel.
Now, Germany's PC-Aero says that its Elektra One Solar has become the
first solar-electric plane to cross the Alps in both directions.
An electric aircraft has crossed the English Channel for the first time. The question is, which one is it? On Friday, Airbus Group announced that its E-Fan technology demonstrator claimed the prize by flying from Lydd, Kent to Calais. However, it soon came to light that French Aerobat Hugues Duval had flown from Dover to Calais 12 hours earlier on Thursday in a Cri-Cri electric plane. Exactly which one gets in the record books may hinge on a technicality.
Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Hawaii after completing its record-breaking
longest leg of the Round the World Solar Flight, that began last March
in Abu Dhabi. With pilot André Borschberg at the controls, the
solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft touched down today at Kalaeloa
Airport just west of Honolulu on the island of Oahu at 5:55 HAST (15:55
When we first covered the news of the E-Fan's first public flight, Airbus was only showing an artist's impression of what the production model of the two-seater electric demonstrator could look like. But this year the company had a full-sized version on display at the 51st Paris Air Show. In addition to straining our ears to listen to hear the original aircraft in the air above Le Bourget, we got the opportunity to rub shoulders with the sleek and sexy E-Fan 2.0 electric pilot trainer.
Small, single-engine aircraft are the mainstay of recreational flying, and provide many hours of generally safe enjoyment for hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts worldwide. However, with only one engine on-board, they are also often only a small malfunction away from becoming a heavy, unpowered glider in dire need of somewhere to land. To help improve this situation, researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and AXTER Aerospace have created an auxiliary electric propulsion unit designed to be installed in conventionally-powered light aircraft to both increase available power and provide extra range in the event of an engine failure.