Last year we brought you news of the Zephyr, an unmanned solar-powered airplane that shattered a world record with a flight of 54 hours. Not content with their initial achievement, the creators of the Zephyr decided to give it a second shot. This time the Zephyr flew for an incredible 82 hours and 37 minutes!
Qinetiq created the Zephyr as a high-altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is powered by lithium-sulpher batteries that are recharged during the day by the the paper-thin solar panels installed upon its wings. The airplane’s extremely light weight (about 30kg) combined with its highly efficient engine give it the potential for multi-month flights.
Unfortunately, the Zephyr’s latest flight didn’t quite meet the official regulations stated by the World Air Sports Federation, therefore the victory is unofficial, but it still counts as quite an impressive achievement on the part of QinetiQ.