Solar plane makes record flight

By | August 28, 2008

A UK-built solar-powered plane has set an unofficial world endurance record for a flight by an unmanned aircraft.

The Zephyr-6, as it is known, stayed aloft for more than three days, running through the night on batteries it had recharged in sunlight.

The flight was a demonstration for the US military, which is looking for new types of technology to support its troops on the ground.

Craft like Zephyr might make ideal platforms for reconnaissance.

They could also be used to relay battlefield communications.

Chris Kelleher, from UK defence and research firm QinetiQ, said Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer advantages over traditional aircraft and even satellites.

“The principal advantage is persistence – that you would be there all the time,” he told BBC News. “A satellite goes over the same part of the Earth twice a day – and one of those is at night – so it’s only really getting a snapshot of activity. Zephyr would be watching all day.” – bbc

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