Electric Airplane Makes Major Advancements

Pretty powered sailplane is third generation model.

Sunseeker Duo

Sunseeker Duo

** Sunseeker Duo**

The beginnings of any new flight segment is filled as much with dreams as with achievements, but one European company, Solar Flight, has been doing electrics for going on 25 years now. The company's latest project, the Sunseeker Duo, made its first flight a few months ago and Solar Flight is now talking results.

The Duo, as the name suggests, is a two-seater. While it looks like a sailplane, it's actually a powered airplane, with the tops of the wings completely covered in high-tech solar panels that are more than 20-percent efficient, a huge increase over previous technologies. As you might remember the original Sunseeker I crossed the United States back in 1990 (okay, so maybe you don't remember) and the subsequent airplane, Sunseeker II, made the first electric flight over the alps.

The Duo has a big but not inordinately so wingspan of 22 meters. At just over 600 pounds empty weight, it doesn't have to work that hard at lifting itself. With more than 1500 solar cells on the wings and tail, the Sunseeker Duo can put out 25kW of power and stay aloft for as long as 12 hours. The company hasn't announced plans to certify or market the design, but their claims that the Duo is the "most advanced" electric airplane in the world indicate that the project is not just for fun and games.

Watch the Sunseeker Duo's test flights in the video below.

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