Solar Powered Airplane Unofficially Achieves New Endurance Record


A new, albeit unofficial, endurance record has been set for a solar powered airplane.

The BBC News reports the Zephyr, an unmanned airplane built by the British company Qinetiq, flew for 54 hours during a recent test, marking the first time a solar powered craft has remained in flight for two consecutive nights. The previous record for unmanned endurance flight was the 2001 journey of a U.S. Air Force Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, which was airborne for more than 30 hours.

However, the Zephyr's flight will not be officially recognized in the record books. Because the flight was conducted under secretive military auspices, the World Air Sports Federation was not notified in advance of the potential for a record breaking accomplishment and, thus, would not recognize the accomplishment as a new record.

However, the Zephyr's design team is promising to go beyond the 54-hour mark. Chris Kelleher, Zephyr's technical director, told the BBC News: ‘You ain't seen nothing yet.’

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