Zero-Emissions Plane Soars on Solar Wings
Thanks to an battery-powered engine and solar panels on the wings, the Elektra One lets pilots fly the eco-friendly, and at greater length than ever before.
SolarWorld, the largest U.S. manufacturer of solar panels for more than 35 years, will showcase the maiden U.S. appearance of a zero-emissions electric aircraft at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2011 in Oshkosh, Wis., starting Monday. SolarWorld and Germany's PC Aero are working together to pioneer the world's first comparatively affordable electric aircraft system complete with solar-equipped aircraft and solar-charging hangar.
The single-seat Elektra One is designed for more than three hours of flight, a range of more than 250 miles, a cruising speed of more than 100 mph and zero emissions. With 1,400 propeller rotations a minute at cruising altitudes, Elektra One is nearly silent. The plane weighs 440 pounds, including battery, and can carry a payload of 220 pounds, including pilot.
SolarWorld and PC Aero are developing a new aviation filling station and hangar fitted with the company's high-performance solar panels to service small aircraft, including the Elektra One, which also will bear SolarWorld photovoltaic cells to extend its range up to 30 percent.
"Elektra One is emblematic of a future in mobility that relies on efficient and environmentally sound electric vehicles," said Frank Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld. "We need to stop depending on fossil fuels and their dirty, noisy use of scarce resources to get from one place to another. Solar power, abundant and pervasive, is the obvious choice for travel in the skies ."
The Elektra One made its maiden flight in March in Augsburg, Germany, where Gologan's vision of marrying the aircraft with a solar-charging hangar was conceptually demonstrated. PC Aero will begin taking orders for the aircraft in Europe and the U.S. in 2012. Gologan intends for a complete system solar-equipped airplane combined with a hangar to be priced around $145,000.