Solar-powered aeroplane floats on the winds of change

Solar powered aviation has travelled a long way since the heady days of the Gossamer Penguin. But could it actually one day power commerical flight? Trouble is, a quick look at the prototypes reveals that most solar-powered planes remain a world away from passenger aviation. But that could be subject to change. Although we are not quite at the stage of the easyJet ecojet just yet, what might be just over the horizon is something like the Hy-Bird, a hybrid of hydrogen, solar-power and lithium-polymer batteries. The Hy-bird still looks like a bit like a prototype, but it is beginning to look more like a proper plane. If you squint your eyes, it could pass for a private jet. Lisa Airplanes, the Hy-bird’s manufacturer, is planning to take the plane on a voyage that will circumnavigate the planet later this summer.

According to Inhabitat, the Hy-bird gets just 10% of its power from solar, which may not mean that solar power can work on its own, that’s still a significant contribution to my mind. Yes, we should all fly less if we want to reduce CO2. But the prospect of a truly green-powered aeroplane is enough to spark the imagination of those that both want to save the planet but still dream of flight.

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