Now you can have a single-occupant solar-charged electric airplane, and a mobile charging station, too.
At this week's ILA Berlin Flight Show, PC-Aero is introducing a solar photovoltaic trailer that helps charge the company's Elektra One solar plane.The Elektra one is built of carbon fiber, and includes solar cells on its wing surface that help charge the electric engines during flight. Now there's also a mobile trailer covered with photovoltaic 'wings' that can be moved from site to site to help provide extra charging capacity for Elektra One. PC-Aero says the system is a step towards zero-emission flights. Elektra One completed its first test flight last year.
Empty, the Elektra One weighs just about 100 kg without its batteries, and with batteries, will be able to fly approximately eight hours with a maximum range of approximately 1,000 kilometers at a speed of 100 kilometers/hour. The trailer with extra solar cells can load the plane's batteries with 2 kW/hour. PC-Aero said the cost to fly the plane is approximately 35 Euros per hour.
Now, this is obviously a very light aircraft, more suitable for pleasure gliding than serious transport needs or as a way to lower the global footprint of all of our air travel. But the Elektra One may be a first step toward the laudable goal of zero-emissions flights. Solar Impulse, a Swiss company, is working on fixed-wing solar aircraft for longer flights, and has completed 4,000 miles of flight time (both daytime, and nighttime flights).
In addition, Elektra One and other solar planes have a huge advantage over other light aircraft in terms of noise pollution – the Elektra One is five times less noisy than classic light aircraft.