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.

Image source: EarthHow

 

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:

Image source: YouTube

 

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?!