Sunseeker Duo - a great prototype for the future

Sunseeker Duo has solar and battery-powered endurance of up to 12 hours by taping into the power of the sun

6/11/14 4:25 pm chumakdenis 1

Sunseeker Duo is a tribute to aviation pioneering.But it's not a mere words, it's a truth.But we don't want to be wordy, so let's have a closer look.

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 760.jpgThe Sunseeker Duo realizes Solar Flight’s dream of a practical, high performance, two-place solar powered airplane. With the new airplane, Solar Flight will continue its quest to expand the performance of electric and solar powered aircraft. Like its predecessors, Sunseeker Duo will embark on continental expeditions and attempt to establish multiple official aviation records. Most importantly, the Duo will let Solar Flight share the first hand experience of flying a solar powered airplane with others.

 

 

World's fastest solar-powered two-seater plane

 

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The Sunseeker Duo is built with no compromise to be the highest performing solar powered airplane in the world. It is also the first and only solar powered airplane with two seats.

The Duo incorporates all of the best features of the other Sunseeker aircraft and adds many refinements, as well as improved technologies. The solar cells used by the Duo are 50% more efficient than those used by Sunseeker II. While Sunseeker II is able to cruise in level flight on direct solar power, the Duo will have enough power to maintain a steady climb on direct solar power. The tricycle landing gear arrangement, familiar to all pilots, ensures that the Duo will operate normally at any airport in the world and folding wings give the airplane a hanger footprint no larger than a Cessna 172. The airplane can also be quickly disassembled and packed into a custom trailer.

First flight

752.jpgExciting maiden flight that had already happened the day before the ASG 32 Mi’s first launches. In Italy, Eric Raymond who built the first solar-powered two-seater which he had “secretly” test flown during the last winter now took up his wife Irena for the first passenger flight ever in his innovative ship. The couple launched from their home airfield in Voghera, Italy. To be more precise they do have several homes, as Eric is American and Irena is a Slovenian native. Italy with its Apennines offers great flying and therefore is a good choice. The Sunseeker Duo climbed up to 12,000 feet, above the clouds. 

Well, one might think the Sunseeker Duo is just another self launching two-seater – like the ASG 32 Mi. Of course it’s a whole different project. A project which was undertaken by more or less two people – Eric Raymond helped by his wife. They had to start with their own means and raised additional money to realize a delicate dream. Powered flying by simply using the sun’s energy. With its 23 meter wingspan Sunseeker Duo can of course be flown as a sailplane as well! Its empty weight of just 660 pounds is lower than of most other two-seaters. 

764.jpgYou might still have the Solar Impulse in mind, the ship which has (single-seated!) crossed the United States during the past summer? Eric was one of the people working in the background who made this happen. Actually he was the first to fly solar-powered across the United States in 1991, but this happened long before we used internet… Now, finally, it’s his and Irena’s turn to fly, try and enjoy their own project. She describes her feelings in that new two-seater in a poetic way: “I feel like a bird… It’s so quiet! Compared to a normal airplane, it’s like night and day. You need a very good headset in every other powered airplane, but in this airplane you can speak normally even when the motor is running full power.”

 

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Story is not over

 Eric has more plans in mind and thinks of taking the new plane up to new heights. Distance test flights are also planned. 

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Europe-USA Partnership

The Sunseeker Duo is claimed to be the most advanced solar powered airplane in the world and the first that is suitable for production. It has a wingspan of 22 meters, an empty weight of 280 kg, and 1510 solar cells with 23% efficiency. The motor has a maximum output of 25kW. The airplane takes off like a normal airplane using energy, harvested from the solar cells which line its wings and tail surfaces, stored in a battery pack in the fuselage. It is then able to cruise directly on solar power. With two people on board, the Duo is capable of flights in excess of 12 hours.

The world leader in pure electric motorised sailplanes is Pipistrel in Slovenia. It is developing an Extremely Short Takeoff and Landing (ESTOL) pure electric aircraft.

As the IDTechEx report, Electric Aircrafts 2014-2024:Trends,Projects,Forecasts  explains, manned electric aircraft serve the need for reduced noise, air and ground pollution and reduced global warming. They will employ new electrical components and systems - printed electronics, smart skin, fuel cells, micro turbine and rotary combustion range extenders. Structural supercapacitors may replace or partly replace batteries, there are new power components and electric motors and multiple energy harvesting and this is really cool.

Well, we'll hope that one day everyone of us could fly such an awesome aircraft and noise won't disturb us anymore during the flight.

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