One of the main contributing factors to airline tickets is the cost of fuel that is consumed for even the shortest of trips. In 2013, the Solar Impulse broke numerous aviation records as many watched its flight across the United States. Almost a year later, the Solar Impulse 2 plans on breaking even more records by being the first solar plane to circumvent the globe. What could this mean for the future of aviation?
Proof Positive - Prior to the original flight of the Solar Impulse, some were in disbelief that solar power could be used in a commercial manner to replace the fuel-consuming jet liners of today. Although both the Impulse and Impulse 2 are relatively small aircraft in comparison to a Boeing 747, the technology proves to be efficient enough in order to expand. Even the smartphone in your pocket was once a device that was the size of a brief case, had less features and weighed roughly the same as a bowling ball.
Price Reduction - As photovoltaic power does not consume a tangible material as a fuel source, there is no continual cost for keeping the Impulse in the air. Aside from proper maintenance of the hardware, the plane is sustainable in flight without extra costs. If a larger airline created a self-sustaining plane for its customers, the cost per ticket could plummet – especially if there was an ever-present interest in flying “green” airlines.
Continued Adaptation - The prototypes of today only provide the basic skeleton of technology for tomorrow. No one builds a project without the hopes of improving it later. If this was true, dot matrix printers would still be in use and televisions would be in black and white through vacuum tubes. In the distant future, solar planes such as the Impulse could lay the initial groundwork for developing solar vehicles that can leave Earth’s atmosphere and travel throughout the solar system. Theoretically, it may not be as far into the future as some may believe.
Private Flight Growth - Without the need to purchase fuel, private owners of solar planes could rake in the benefits financially. Of course there are permits and licenses that need to be obtained in order to charter private flights, but fuels wouldn’t need to be a part of the experience. For those that can afford building or buying a solar plane that can carry a few passengers, these people could possibly see an increase in customers. This could be especially true if these individuals were to market the experience as being “green” flights. It could make island hoping in Hawaii or the Philippines more affordable and easier for many.
Sound Pollution - Exhaust from burning fossil fuels isn’t the only pollution that can be dealt with using solar air vehicles. Most of the sounds you hear from jets, propeller planes and helicopters are caused by the continuous explosions within an engine that are then amplified by the exhaust systems. Although electric vehicles still produce the whir of motors spinning, these machines are considerably quieter to operate.
For the past decade, solar innovation has traveled a great deal picking up moment like a snowball rolling down the Alps. As each year passes, more and more technology brings humanity closer to being sustainable without the use of fossil fuels. If humanity can keep its current pace of development, you could find taking your grandchildren to Florida could cost less than it did when you were their age.
Credit Rachael Cherry on Google+
Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.
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