@Tekochip, you may be right about the fact that this plane is much heavier than an average small plane ( a Cessna in this case) but if you consider exactly what the former can do then you will begin to appreciate the innovation behind it. I think it's because the article did not mention the fact that this plane does not have any other back up source of energy if the solar panels and batteries should fail while in flight; it takes serious design work to even secure the objective of assured energy alone. The wings could have been a little smaller though if the solar cells were more efficient.
This plane is indeed an interesting demonstration of the wonderful materials available from the suppliers. But while a can see a few practical applications for such an aircraft, I do not see enough value to make it worth the effort and expense. So does anybody see what is gained from the creation of this craft?
It's max cruising altitude is 27,000 ft, slightly lower than Mt. Everest. I wonder how long the pilot can maintain that altitude before hypoxia becomes an issue. Sure he will probably have oxygen but for how long before needing to land and resupply?
It's worth taking a trip to their website, at least for some of the graphics to get an appreciation of the bird's size. The useful load be low, but this is a large and heavy aircraft. A 72 meter wingspan is wider than a 747, and the battery load alone is heavier than my much-loved Cessna 172.
The Solar Impulse if a very interesting project--thanks for your continued coverage, Ann. The use of lighter materials is interesting and really holds the key to the development of solar-powered vehicles--not just airplanes but also road vehicles. There is important ground being broken here.
Good to see a wide variety of materials from Bayer being showcased for this aeronautical application. I was especially intrigued by the use of the polyurethane rigid foam for the cockpit shell. Good luck to the team and wish them success on the upcoming flights.
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