Solar powered plane arrives in Paris

The Swiss Solar Impulse arrives in Le Bourget for the Paris air-show, where its makers say it marks a new stage in aviation.

By REUTERS
June 15, 2011 19:02
1 minute read.
Solar powered plane

Solar powered plane arrives in Paris 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As it makes its slow decent to the runway at Le Bourget, Paris, the Solar Impulse aircraft may not have wowed crowds with its speed.

But for the spectators at the International Paris Air Show this was a rare treat.

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The aircraft is completely solar powered, and its makers say it can cope when the weather turns bad becasue it stores the energy.

Twelve thousand solar cells integrated into the wing supply four electric motors with renewable energy and charge lithium polymer batteries, also allowing the plane to fly at night.

For the makers of the aircraft it signals the beginning of a new phase in aviation technology.

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"Now we are starting a new cycle again. It's a new cycle with zero fuel, and this really is important. So of course the airplanes will make some evolution. It will not always stay so big, so light, so sensitive to the weather, but this is a first step. Now we are showing that an airplane with zero fuel, just on solar power, can fly day and night with a pilot on board," said Solar Impulse founder and chairman Bertrand Piccard.

With an average flying speed of just 70 km per hour, Solar Impulse is not going to threaten commercial jets just yet, but the makers hope the technology will revolutionize the industry.

A larger prototype is scheduled to fly around the world in 2013.


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