81.5-Hour Solar Flight – Best in Class

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Following Andre’ Borschberg’s record-breaking endurance and distance flight in Solar Impulse last month, the accomplishment of a group of Swiss students and their planned trans-Atlantic, solar-powered autonomous flight are equally worthy of consideration. With a much smaller budget than Solar Impulse, the students are planning a 5,000 kilometer (3,100 mile) flight from Bell Island, Canada to Lisbon, Portugal, a seven-day test of self-guided navigation and autonomous airmanship.  Recent achievements by the team suggest that success will come from good design and careful planning. Last month, their AtlantikSolar 2 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle made its first 24-hour flight.  (The team generously acknowledges American Alan Cocconi’s 48-hour, solar-powered flight with his 13-kilogram (28.6 pound) So Long in 2005.) Only two weeks later, the …

Solar Impulse Overnighter: 26 Hours Nine Minutes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, landed this morning at 9:00 a.m. (local tme) in Payerne, Switzerland, having completed the first-ever night flight on battery energy stored during the previous day through the craft’s solar cells.  Taking off at 6:51 a.m. July 7, Borschberg flew the 64-meter span, four-motor airplane in large patterns around the area, gaining altitude to a height of 8,564 meters (27,404 feet) above sea level and charging the batteries – all while running the motors at climb power. As night fell, he glided to preserve the stored power, ran the motors as needed to maintain altitude, and landed with a small reserve.  This successful demonstration of being able to run the motors on …

Solar Flight at Night

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Solar Impulse prototype, HB-SIA, will be making its first night flights within the next month, according to a June 15, 2010 press release from the project team. With eight successful flights to its credit, the airplane will attempt two critical missions according to the release: “the first night flight ever by a solar aircraft “the first ever complete cycle flight to validate the possibility of long-duration flights without any fuel” “’To fly day and night with a solar aircraft is a human and technological challenge that has never been met so far, and an essential stage of the project’, says André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse. ‘Demonstrating that we can fly a whole day and night will …

Isn’t It Ionic?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Only a few months after the first heavier-than-air hydrogen-fueled crossing of the English Channel (See Man of La Manche, October 29), the Naval Research Laboratory flew its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Ion Tiger for an endurance record of 26 hours and one minute.  The flight took place on November 16th through November 17th. The Navy press release claims, “Fuel cells create an electrical current when they convert hydrogen and oxygen into water and heat.  The 550 Watt (0.75 horsepower) fuel cell onboard the Ion Tiger has about four times the efficiency of a comparable internal combustion engine and the system provides seven times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries. The Ion Tiger weighs approximately 37 pounds and carries a …