Solar electric demonstrator takes to the air for the first time
Each wing of the StratoAirNet prototype is packed with SolAero high efficiency PV cells (Credit: Bye Aerospace)
Just a few short months after its Sun Flyer 2 prototype completed its maiden flight, Bye Aerospace reports that another of its aircraft has completed its first test flights. The StratoAirNet medium altitude solar electric demonstrator is being developed for long endurance commercial and government security needs and will operate as an “atmospheric satellite” UAV. The StratoAirNet prototype has a lightweight composite structure and a 15 meter (50 ft) wingspan packed with SolAero high efficiency PV cells. Under ideal daylight conditions at altitude, the array is claimed to deliver some 2,000 watts for sustained flight.
Though piloted during its debut, and subsequent test flights, at Northern Colorado Regional Airport, the aircraft is destined to become an “atmospheric satellite” UAV, taking a supporting role in long endurance missions including communications relay, internet, mapping, search and rescue, firefighting command and control, anti-poaching monitoring, severe weather tracking, agriculture monitoring, mineral source surveying and spill detection. Bye Aerospace says that the StratoAirNet aircraft, and sister Solesa piloted systems, should have a lower unit cost compared to traditional systems, as well as lower operating costs, lower heat and noise signatures and enhanced utility. Development continues.