First Solar-Electric Drone Enters Production

A new solar-electric aircraft has entered commercial production and is getting ready for its first delivery. Named the Silent Falcon, the UAS is produced by Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Silent Falcon UAS Technologies (SFUAS), a former subsidiary of Bye Aerospace, which specializes in alternative energies for aviation application that is also involved with Aero Electric Aircraft Corp., the developer of the Sun Flyer. For the Silent Falcon, SFUAS is also working in close collaboration with Ascent Solar Technologies, a company that produces very thin, lightweight solar cells.

The Silent Falcon is an all-composite small UAS with several interchangeable wing designs for different missions, such as commercial operations, public safety and defense. Weighing in at around 30 pounds, the Silent Falcon takes off from a launch ramp, and the company claims the UAS can fly more than eight hours due to its aerodynamic design, lightweight construction and advanced solar power, which is stored in lithium polymer batteries. SFUAS also claims the Silent Falcon's propulsion system, which spins a single propeller, is undetectable below 200 feet agl.

"Silent Falcon is the first solar-electric aircraft to enter commercial production," said John Brown, president of SFUAS. "Its solar-electric design gives it unmatched performance and value in its class."

George Bye, the chairman of SFUAS and CEO of Bye Aerospace, says he believes the Silent Falcon has the potential for sales of several hundred units per year, including orders from what he believes is a growing military and international commercial market.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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