Aircraft developer Solar Flight Inc. has achieved a milestone with the successful flight of the Sunseeker Duo, the first two-passenger solar-powered airplane. Aboard were Irena and Eric Raymond—the company-founding husband and wife team responsible for the new airplane—who took off from the Solar Flight facility near Milan, Italy.
The company says the solar cells used to power the Duo are 50 percent more efficient than those used by its predecessor Sunseeker II, offering enough power to maintain a steady climb to flight level. The plane’s tricycle landing gear arrangement, familiar to all pilots, ensures the Duo will operate normally at any airport in the world, and its 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.
The Sunseeker Duo continues the company’s exploration of solar-powered flight which started with their first Sunseeker I model designed in 1990, and which completed the first trans-U.S. solar-powered flight.
Solar Flight Inc. specializes in the design, manufacture and testing of aircraft with particular expertise in advanced materials, lightweight structures and the integration of solar power systems in aircraft.