Aircraft

Elektra One Solar becomes first solar-electric aircraft to cross the Alps in both directions

Elektra One Solar becomes firs...
The Elektra One Solar on its way across the Alps
The Elektra One Solar on its way across the Alps
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The single-person ultralight aircraft took off from the German municipality of Unterwössen on June 25th, crossed over the Grossglockner (the highest mountain in Austria), and proceeded to land in the Austrian town of Lienz
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The single-person ultralight aircraft took off from the German municipality of Unterwössen on June 25th, crossed over the Grossglockner (the highest mountain in Austria), and proceeded to land in the Austrian town of Lienz
On July 2nd, the Elektra One Solar flew back across the mountain range, facing strong headwinds and gusts
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On July 2nd, the Elektra One Solar flew back across the mountain range, facing strong headwinds and gusts
One of five of its kind, the 180-kg (397-lb) Elektra One Solar was equipped with 280 solar cells on its upper wing surface, which provided about 30 percent of the electricity it required to fly
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One of five of its kind, the 180-kg (397-lb) Elektra One Solar was equipped with 280 solar cells on its upper wing surface, which provided about 30 percent of the electricity it required to fly
The Elektra One Solar on its way across the Alps
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The Elektra One Solar on its way across the Alps

It's been quite a month for electric aircraft. First, the Solar Impulse 2 broke distance and duration records when it flew from Japan to Hawaii. Then, two competing teams both claimed to have made the world's first electric flight across the English Channel. Now, Germany's PC-Aero says that its Elektra One Solar has become the first solar-electric plane to cross the Alps in both directions.

According to the company, the single-person ultralight aircraft took off from the German municipality of Unterwössen on June 25th, crossed over the Grossglockner (the highest mountain in Austria), and proceeded to land in the Austrian town of Lienz. The whole flight took 2.5 hours.

On July 2nd, it flew back across the mountain range, facing strong headwinds and gusts. Climbing to an altitude of over 3,000 m (9,843 ft) and traveling 190 km (118 miles), it reached the Austrian town of Zell am See within two hours. The aircraft's stated range is 500 km (311 miles) or five hours.

On July 2nd, the Elektra One Solar flew back across the mountain range, facing strong headwinds and gusts
On July 2nd, the Elektra One Solar flew back across the mountain range, facing strong headwinds and gusts

One of five of its kind, the 180-kg (397-lb) Elektra One Solar was equipped with 280 solar cells on its upper wing surface, which provided about 30 percent of the electricity it required to fly. The rest came from its pre-charged 11.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It has a continuous engine power of 16 kW, and can carry a maximum payload of 100 kg (220 lb) at a cruising speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).

For this trip, it was additionally equipped with a 3D landscape mapping camera.

PC-Aero also manufactures a non-solar (but still electric) version of the Elektra One, and is working on models that will seat multiple passengers.

Source: PC-Aero

7 comments
minivini
Much more impressive feat than either English Channel crossing.
minivini
Much more impressive feat than either English Channel crossing!
Paul van Dinther
Not sure what this means. You can fly a glider across the alps making use of the updrafts and thermals. The aircraft looks a bit like a glider so, it may well have done this with the engine turned off! I find the Canal crossing a lot more meaningful for electric flight.
Tom Lee Mullins
Perhaps this will lead to other electric planes in the future? I think it would be great for light sport aircraft.
Jason McNeil
While the Solar Impulse is an interesting engineering exercise, it demonstrates the intrinsic limitations of the reliance on the low-power-density of the sun for aircraft propulsion. With state of the art cells can generate ~200W sq/m. The data on the manufacturer's website states: "6 square meter solar cells on the wing surface provide more than 1 kW power for flying". In traditional aircraft terms, this is a rounding error of the power capable in a small ICE engine.
oldguy
Solar Power and better Storage Solutions, this is the future of flight, if we want to keep our bruised and battered old planet habitable.
IrenaRaymond
It is unbelievable how fast the real first achievements become erased from history. In this day and age, when all the data are easily accessible, I would expect that writers would verify the authenticity of information. Crossing the Alps with solar-electric aircraft has been already done in 2009, by Eric Raymond, with his Sunseeker II: http://www.solar-flight.com/projects/sunseeker-ii/ http://www.fai.org/news/32736-solar-powered-sunseeker-ii-crosses-the-alps http://www.treehugger.com/aviation/breathtaking-first-crossing-of-the-alps-by-a-solar-plane.html Eric Raymond's first flight over the Alps took approx. 5 hours and the distance flown was more than double of the distance of Electra One's both flights. Later in 2009 he made more crossings of the Alps in many directions. [Ed. note: As mentioned in the article, PC-Aero's claim was specifically that its Elektra One Solar was the first solar-electric aircraft to cross the Alps "in both directions."]