Emissions-free air travel may be closer than we think. Last year, the Solar Impulse became the first solar-powered plane to complete an international flight. While its creators work towards their goal of a nonstop flight around the world, PC-Aero’s Elektra One appears to be bringing commercially viable solar-powered air travel closer to being a reality.
The German company, which specializes in ultra-light solar electric planes, has created in the Elektra One (right) a hybrid solar electric plane with a reported flight range of more than 600 miles on a single charge.
The 440-pound plane uses solar panels to provide additional juice to the plane’s batteries. The extended range the solar panels provide allows the Elektra One to be competitive with the world’s top hobby plane, the Cessna 172. WIthout the aid of the solar panels, the electric hybrid plane manages only 300 miles per charge.
The Elektra One was introduced publicly at the 2011 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where it was awarded the Lindbergh Prize for Electric Aircraft Vision Award. (See a brief video of that demo flight below.)
Notably, the Elektra One sells for $145,000, roughly half of what one can expect to pay for a new Cessna 172, as well as other hobby planes. It is currently a single-seater, which may make it less appealing to prospective owners, but it is perhaps a first step towards emissions-free air travel.