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Solar planes are not the green future of air travel

The Solar Impulse 2 only has enough power to carry 2 tons of weight, including a single passenger, at a top speed of just 43 miles per hour. By contrast, a Boeing 747-400 can transport 400 people at top speeds of 570 miles per hour. (A gallon of jet fuel packs about 15 to 30 times more energy than a lithium-ion battery of the same weight.) ( Daha Fazlası...

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hal pushpak 7
I’m a pilot and mechanic. I’ve found conservatism to be the norm amongst us. Whether it’s about materials, propulsion, fuels, etc., anything outside the “box” is met with negativity. Yet, the naysayers have usually been proven wrong.

The proof is in the pudding. Almost all of the recent innovations, e.g., fly-by-wire, composites, glass cockpits, on and on, were met with bleats from the close-minded. Aviation is only about 100 years old and I’ve witnessed this negativity for half its existence. (Yeah, I’m old.)

If you are a “vest pocket scientist,” will you know that electric motors are approximately 90% efficient while fossil-fuel engines are about 30% efficient at converting energy into rotating motion. All we have to figure out is a way to power it without an electric cord. That’s exactly what they are doing. It’s a tall order, so let’s give ‘em a break..!

Solar Impulse can stay in the air almost indefinitely, day and night (except near the poles during their winters.) That alone should strike one as impressive. It certainly strikes NASA and the military and the spy agencies as VERY impressive. (You can Google that.)

As for being “green..” — nothing is completely green, and will never be as long as humans are around. It’s just a matter of degree. About all you can do is buy some time. (George Carlin, RIP, says it best: “The planet will be fine.. The people are f***ed.”)
oh yes--It is going to be great fun flying at 30mph from LAX to South Africa. Of course, you have to take off and land under perfect flying conditions. That shouldn't add more that a day or two to the typical flight.
I think someone may have said the same of the Wright flyer...
Paul Gooding 4
I don't see the point of this post. The stated purpose of the Si2 project is to demonstrate the capability of solar power, not to promote solar powered airplanes. Any comparison of this aircraft to a conventionally powered aircraft is completely inapt.
Hernan Kelly 3
Let the experiment have a little more time and we shall see. This new technology will be further developed
John Brecher 3
This project is not to show a way to power commercial aviation, but rather a way to show how we can get away from the polluting petroleum products we now rely on. It is to show that we can use wind and solar to replace to oil. Those who think this is stupid, don't understand the point. We need to seek alternatives to oil. Wind and solar are never ending sources of energy. I mow my 3 acres with a GE Elec Trac E-15 electric lawn tractor. I charge it's batteries with a Harbor Freight solar cell. I use only solar energy to mow. It used to cost about $15/mowing for gas to mow 3 acres. We need to think about changing.
I can imagine you around 1908-1910 writing the same article about the future of mass travel by airplanes. Making the same comments about the Wright Flyer practicality as you made about Solar Impulse you would have concluded that there was no future in mass travel by airplane. Watch out, if you are less than middle age, this article could come back to haunt and shame you during your lifetime! :-)
As with spacetravels that need inventions all the time, inventions that comes in use on the planets surface later on, this is about finding inventions that very well could be used in housings and such places. Having the buildings outside, roof, walls and everything covered in solar cells and and a battery that provides the house with electricity during the nights, that might be the future for some places and will ease the hunger for energy on this planet, but some places will never use this type of source as a lone supply. Living at the 65th latitude means less than 3 hours of sun during the cold winters, and an abundant of sun during the warm period. I wouldn't have the energy when I need it the most. But, despite of that, Solar Impulse 2 shows what is possible with inventions, and it is a part of the future.
Bruce Johnson 2
If you RTA, it's not really dumping on Solar Impulse, but does a rather excellent job of spelling out all kinds of carbon-reduction strategies that could come online over time and may or may not pay off. And it's a pretty safe bet that some percentage of non-commercial aviation will go electric, and possibly quite quickly (see Volocopter for an example... I'd love to have one of those.) Too bad about the click-bait headline, though.
Kim Lawler 2
If you had been following SolarIMPULSE , you would know they predict that in 10 years ,10% of planes will be electric, and worldwide innovators will have found new uses for solar power and new materials. The partners and backers are seeking to bring awareness of Solar power uses to create new nonpuluuting jobs, materials, & industries worldwide in the future. You should also acknowledge the records set by these remarkable pilots, pioneers, and this innovative plane that could fly forever if they didn't have to resupply the pilot.. Naysayers said the round the world Solar flight couldn't be done. This TEAM is showing what can be accomplished by dedication, hardwork, and future thinking...a successful RTW Solar flight!
Jim DeTour 1
View I have is that during the development and work around troubles like battery types and cooling patents will be derived. Then be it emergency or just commercial needs arise for airborne communications repeaters and things like long term constant monitoring they group will have an edge on things. Figure looking for a lost aircraft, boat or persons can be a 24 hour non stop approach if they can work out keeping the plane at lower altitudes during the high amperage drain periods of night time. Even without lower altitudes at night the plane could always be back on duty at first light.
MMPilot 0
To keep a A380 with 570tons MTOW in the air flying with 800km/h a thrust of 4x320 KN is essential, equivalent to a power of 284.205 KW. Covering the whole wing surface 846 sqm with solar cells, assuming 100% efficiency of solar radiation with 1300 W/sqm would generate 1099KW, equal to 0,38% of the A380 power - it is foolish and naive solar power would be the future of air travel !
Russ Brown 0
It was a stunt. Something for the record books. But gutsy just the same. I don't think it was ever meant to be considered as the "future" of air travel. I would prefer dirigibles.
Ric Wernicke -3
I think this is a fine demonstration of techniques and materials that might find use in fossil fueled aviation.

Folks, it is not "greener" except in the minds of square headed politicians and their vest pocket scientists. This is like a religion that wants you to accept facts as an article of faith.

There are but seven billion people, and if all of them worked hard to "damage" the environment, the natural processes of the Sun, Moon, & Earth would fix it before their heads hit the pillow.

I am always delighted to get to Shanghai in a triple seven in 14 hours compared with the several days it used to take in propeller airplanes. Please pass the Jet A, and let the greens know they contribute nothing to society.


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