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Old Mar 10, 2015, 12:57 AM
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Solar Impulse flying around the world

OK, it's not radio controlled but it is one BIG electric airplane. It left from Dubai, landed in Muscat, Oman and then took off for India. The span is 72 M - 236 feet. Power consumption is about 37KW. At the link below you can see the in-flight video of the cockpit as well as loads of telemetry including graphics of the flight information and solar panel and battery state data. There are live voice feeds between the pilot and ground as well.

http://www.solarimpulse.com/widget-instruments

David
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Old Mar 10, 2015, 02:42 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
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A 5 month trip to complete the mission does seem a little long.
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Old Mar 10, 2015, 04:26 PM
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Yea but what is the ground speed? 40 to 50 mph? cant be much..I didn't read the article !
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Old Mar 11, 2015, 01:16 AM
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They have a lot of scheduled stops and change out between two pilots. Tuesday morning (ref: USA time) they took off from Oman with a lot of dust in the air and climbed for several hours on battery before having enough sun for the solar cells to give enough power to fly the plane and charge the batteries. They target the airspeed at around 30 knots IAS but with a tailwind at 23000 feet the ground speed was over 60 kt for a while. I saw a takeoff; it looked like the aircraft left the ground just as the aircraft pulled away from the ground crew that was jogging along with it. I found the electrical side as interesting as anything.

They're doing live interviews in flight and making it a massive PR campaign. The greenies are ecstatic over the idea of fossil fuel free flight and ready to jump on commercial flights that don't require fuel. They have no concept of how far we are from commercial electric flight.

The accomplishment is very cool and the aircraft is as well outfitted as any modern business jet short of climate control.

David
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Old Mar 11, 2015, 10:44 AM
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It is a pretty cool plane. Man you would get pretty tired flying at that speed and alt. I guess take a good book or 2 to read. My guess is we are 15 to 20 years out for commercial electric flight. I do have close to 80 hrs of electric flight in full size.
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Old Mar 11, 2015, 07:44 PM
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What kind of electric are you flying? I recall reading about an electric aerobatic plane a few years ago.

I noticed that the Solar Impulse is carrying almost 1400 pounds of lithium batteries.- 25% of the weight of the aircraft. Each motor ahs a max of 17.5 KW.

David
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Old Mar 12, 2015, 10:28 AM
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Yuneec E430 and Espyder. See my blog. there is some vid
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Old Mar 17, 2015, 09:05 PM
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Solar Impulse is airborne again. Takeoff delayed almost 2 hours by a Customs snafu. They're going about 1000 km across India to the east coast, expecting a 15 hour flight time.
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Old Mar 19, 2015, 07:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David2011 View Post
They have no concept of how far we are from commercial electric flight.

The accomplishment is very cool and the aircraft is as well outfitted as any modern business jet short of climate control.

David
Funny, I think they have more of an idea than anybody else how far we are from commercial solar powered planes. Even my wife asks me how come we don't have solar powered airliners and why I don't fly solar powered RC!

I think this accomplishment is somewhat comparable to the flight of the Voyager, who's development I followed, and 5 days into the flight made the descision to travel to California to see it land (from OK).

A perhaps equally impressive accomplishment would be an unmanned RTW flight non-stop. I know Quinetic had a couple of very long flights with their 20lb or so solar plane.

Cheers!

SLCPilot
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Old Mar 19, 2015, 10:22 AM
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I was a little off on the weight.... Enjoy...

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qinetiq_Zephyr
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Old Mar 24, 2015, 12:13 AM
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Funny, I think they have more of an idea than anybody else how far we are from commercial solar powered planes. Even my wife asks me how come we don't have solar powered airliners and why I don't fly solar powered RC!

Cheers!

SLCPilot
SLC,

"They" as I was referring to them is the greenie tree huggers; not the Solar Impulse people. I agree with your assessment. It's ground breaking but as with all first generation technology it's a building block. From the time I saw the little round headlights on the cover of Popular Mechanics until I saw the first production automobile on the street with them was probably 20-22 years, and that was just an upgrade to the existing cars. Solar power will require improvements of multiple orders of magnitude like the changes from Ni-Cad to Li-Po and brushed to brushless.

David
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Old Mar 24, 2015, 08:28 AM
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My apologies David, I should have read your post slower.

You are also right about this being the first generation of the technology. My wife is a greenie, and doesn't understand that even with 100% capture of solar power with cells as cheap as dirt, and a 100% efficient motor there still isn't enough power/energy to lift much, or go very fast.

I have a 65 mile commute once a week. Could solar cells on the car charge an efficient battery for that? Maybe. THAT would be a practical application of solar power.

Cheers!

SLCPilot
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Old Mar 24, 2015, 09:22 PM
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My apologies David, I should have read your post slower.

I have a 65 mile commute once a week. Could solar cells on the car charge an efficient battery for that? Maybe. THAT would be a practical application of solar power.

Cheers!

SLCPilot
No worries! Sailors have been powering their lights and electronics for a long time with solar cells. Electric cars are here, now. Given a light enough car to control the power consumption I don't see why you shouldn't be able to do that commute with solar cells to charge the batteries. It would probably work far better in Stillwater than on the Washington or Oregon coast. Small wind generators have been on sailboats for years as well and they can pump out a lot of electricity. They work at night, too.

David
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