The world debut of solar-powered Solar Impulse airplane could hardly have happened in less auspicious weather conditions.
Looking more like a glider than an airplane, the two-seat, battery-powered eGenius made its first flight on May 25, from Mindelheim airfield in Bavaria, Germany. Designed by the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart, the concept aircraft flew for 20 minutes powered by a 60kW electric motor.
EAA AirVenture, as usual, brought the aviation family together for another week of celebration, innovation and pure enjoyment at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wis.
Major airframers and component suppliers have instituted new research programs and initiatives to develop electric propulsion for light aircraft. The consensus among the participating parties is that battery and motor technology offering similar performance and endurance of small piston engines is roughly 10 years away.
Solar Impulse’s first prototype made its first flight on April 7 in Payerne, Switzerland, paving the way for the first night flight with a solar-powered, manned aircraft this summer. Company CEO André Borschberg and founder Bertrand Piccard are then planning a round-the-world flight, with probably five stopovers, to demonstrate the potential of investing in renewable energies.
The HB-SIA solar-powered aircraft, the first prototype of the Solar Impulse project, is to be unveiled next week on June 26 at Dübendorf air base, near Zurich, Switzerland. Those who attend will discover some design changes since the last images were released, company CEO André Borschberg told AIN, adding that a first flight is planned for later this year.
A fuel-cell-powered electric airplane is the goal of Worcester, Mass.-based Advanced Technology Products and its nonprofit arm, the Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology Education. At Oshkosh, ATP announced its receipt of a $400,000 NASA grant to develop a fuel cell and exhibited a modified DynAero Lafayette III, built and donated by American Ghiles Aircraft of Deland, Fla. The airplane is being developed in three phases.
Bertrand Piccard, initiator of the Solar Impulse program, which is calling for a flight around the world with an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy, showcased the state of his venture in a media conference at Duebendorf airfield near Zurich, Switzerland, last month.
Bertrand Piccard, initiator of the Solar Impulse program calling for a flight around the world with an aircraft powered exclusively by solar energy, showcased the state of his venture in a media conference at the Duebendorf airfield near Zurich, Switzerland, on November 6.
The Solar Impulse has made significant progress toward its goal of being the first solar-powered aircraft to fly at night. Led by psychiatrist and accomplished aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, the team began construction of the 200-foot-wingspan prototype in late April. Flight tests are scheduled to start next year.