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NEWS Last modified on July 25, 2012

Solar powered aircraft breaks world record

The world's airports could look very different in the future if aircraft were to look anything like this.

The world's airports could look very different in the future if aircraft were to look anything like this.

This is the Solar Impulse HB SIA airplane, which has just broken the world record for the furthest distance travelled by a solar-powered aircraft.

Touching down at 8.30pm CET on July 24, following a 6,000km eight-leg flight from Toulouse, France, to Payerne, Switzerland, the plane is driven by four 10-horsepower motors, powered by 11,628 photovoltaic panels.

Regardless of the weather, the panels harvest energy from daylight, which is then stored using 400kg of lithium batteries.

Landing between stops, each leg of the plane's journey consisted of around 800km, achieved with an average flying speed of 70kmh.

The single passenger carbon fibre aircraft measures 21.85m meters in length and 6.4m in height, with a wingspan of 63.4m, and weighs 1,600kg.

The team behind the plane hope to build a second solar powered aircraft capable of a flying around the world, between April and July 2014.


Photograph (c) Solar Impulse 

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