Can you imagine being on a plane for an entire year? Yikes! (And to think, we already feel like a 6-hour cross-country flight lasts forever…)
That’s right: A new airplane that uses solar power to stay in the air, the PHASA-35, has just been developed. Using this system, the plane is capable of flying for an entire year without need to refuel.
Thankfully for those of us with a fear of flying, the plane – which was created by BAE Systems in the UK – is not intended for passenger flights. Instead, it’s designed to fly in the stratosphere, performing many tasks that are currently done by satellites.
These tasks include monitoring, surveillance, communications and security. Potential applications range from extending communications networks to border protection, disaster relief and more.
Even more interesting, the PHASA-35 doesn’t even need a pilot! It’s completely autonomous, meaning it can be controlled remotely – or even control itself.
The way it works is rather simple. PHASA-35 will spend all day soaking up the sun… and by nighttime, it’ll have enough charge in its long-term battery to last through to the following sunrise.
It doesn’t look like a typical plane, either. It’s clearly designed for long distance and maximum aerodynamics. Check it out:
Despite only being developed 2 years ago, the PHASA-35 has already completed initial test runs and plans to begin operating in about a year from now.
Of course, a good idea is an idea worth replicating. And that’s exactly what’s happening – there are more sustainably powered aircraft coming. One is a solar-powered two-seat plane from SolarStratos, while another is a zero-emission hydrogen plane from ZeroAvia.
So there you have it: an eco-friendly, pilot-free plane that almost never touches the ground. What’ll they think up next?!