‘Eternal’ solar plane Zephyr confirmed record-breaker

December 25th, 2010 - 11:52 am ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 25 (ANI): The UK-built solar-powered plane Zephyr, dubbed ‘eternal plane’, has been officially announced a record breaker following its feat of non-stop flight for two weeks.

Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), gave Zephyr three records including longest time aloft.

“This aircraft can help track pirates off the Horn of Africa, alert the authorities about where and how fast forest fires are spreading, and ensure that soldiers’ communications remain unaffected when fighting in mountainous or hilly terrain,” the BBC quoted Qinetiq’s chief designer Chris Kelleher as saying.

The plane has beaten the earlier record for the absolute duration of an unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) flight - set by Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk in 2001 - by a factor of 11.

The aircraft, made of amorphous silicon, flies during daytime on electricity generated by solar panels on its wings. Its USP is their persistence over a location.

Its best part is the ultra-light design, based on carbon fibre, which means that with a wingspan of 22.5m (74ft) it weighs little more than 50kg (110 lb).

The military will want to use them as reconnaissance and communications platforms. Civilian and scientific programmes will equip them with small payloads for Earth observation duties. (ANI)

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