By Murdo Morrison
The developers of a single-pilot aircraft which its inventors plan to fly around the world in 2011, powered only by sunlight, rather oddly chose EBACE to launch their latest initiative: a virtual flight from Honolulu to Miami which you can follow in real time today at the solarimpulse site
The Solar Impulse project aims to develop a two-tonne, lithium battery-powered aircraft with an 80 metre wingspan and capable of flying to 4,000 ft.
The Swiss-based developers plan to begin construction of a first prototype next year, which will be used for a 36h mission to prove the concept that the aircraft can generate enough power from the sun during the day to continue flying all night. A bigger version that will attempt the round the world flight will follow.
These guys may sound like Jules Verne eccentrics but they are not cranks. Partners include Dassault Aviation and Deutsche Bank and a host of other venerable financial and industrial backers.
However, they admit that their project is more of a “symbol” to highlight the need to find alternative forms of energy rather than a viable attempt to create solar-powered aircraft.