Solar, Fuel Cell Power Displayed

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Sunseeker II came to AERO Friedrichshafen to start a European tour that will cover eight countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, France and Spain. The solar-powered aircraft has already completed hundreds of miles of test flights over the U.S. Southwest, logging more flight hours than all other manned solar-powered aircraft combined. Its latest modifications include greater surface area for solar cell coverage. A teetering propeller reduces vibration, and the new aircraft is fitted with four packs of advanced lithium polymer batteries, which are installed in the wings. Fuel cell power was also front and center at AERO.

A world tour is on the cards sponsorship permitting for Helite's hydrogen-powered aircraft. Three fuel cells of two kilowatts each generate power from hydrogen to run the electric motor. Though the aircraft didn't make its anticipated debut flight at AERO Friedrichshafen (owing to lack of permits, not aircraft preparation), the hydrogen-powered trike should have its first flight within a month, according to Gerard Thevenot, president of Helite. The company is expecting to be able to fly its trike for anywhere from one to two hours at a time depending on the size of the hydrogen bottle it carries, the smallest of which can weigh as little as three kg.