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Solar Powered Flight: Fact Or Fantasy

Certainly there seems to be no immediate prospect of a commercial aircraft that runs off solar power. Whilst there are undoubtedly several technological advances and progress being made when it comes to commercial flight and elements such as fuel economy, does the lack of solar coming onto the horizon mean that it is always going to be off the agenda?

Well no it appears not, and over time we probably can't imagine yet what technologies will be used to provide the power for flights, such are the limits of human imagination to, well, imagine what future developments will bring.

And when it comes to solar power flight, there has actually been a very significant development of late.

That is because Andre Borchsberg has recently piloted a vehicle that is known as Solar Impulse, and this amazing aircraft flew for a staggering time - over 24 hours in fact - and do so using the engines on the craft that were powered by solar energy, the ultimate renewable energy source from the sun!

This is an important milestone and an impressive step, because it would appear to be proof of concept that solar flight is at least viable. Of course there would need to be a lot of work done - probably many, many years - to work out how solar technology to contribute to commercial flights, but nonetheless it is an impressive feat that should undoubtedly be applauded.

Date published: 26 Jul 2010

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