QinetiQ’s Zephyr, a solar powered unmanned aircraft has dawned a new era in history of solar aviation. The aircraft completed its two weeks of non-stop flight above a US Army range in Arizona smashing the official world record of nonstop 30 hour flight by an unmanned aircraft set in 2001.
What helped Zephyr establish this ground breaking magnificent feat was its gigantic 22.5m wingspan covered with amorphous silicon solar array. These arrays recharged the lithium-sulphur batteries, used by the aircraft during night. the ultra light weight is made from carbon-fiber and weighs just over 50 kgs. The plane’s entirely new aerodynamic shape and high “T” tail also contributed to reduced drag and improved performance.
Zephyr certainly dawns an era of low-cost and persistent aerial surveillance over months. The flight success is expected to help logical applications as earth observation, communications, while supporting a range of defense, security and commercial requirements.
The QinetiQ Zephyr will be show-cased at the Farnborough International Airshow.