Aurora's Advanced Concepts: SunLight Eagle - Green Flight
The SunLight Eagle Program (SLE) serves as a high-altitude test platform for sub-systems
and small payloads designed for long-duration missions. With increasing emphasis
on Green technologies, the development demonstration of zero emissions aircraft
is increasingly important in the aerospace industry. Solar-electric airplanes show
great promise for the future for applications ranging from communications to surveillance
to low-cost satellite replacements. SLE is the basis second-generation solar electric
aircraft optimized for flights at altitudes above 25,000 feet.
SunLight Eagle is an outgrowth of a world record-holding human-powered aircraft,
which has been developed by Aurora’s engineers into an electrically driven solar-powered
aircraft. Thin solar cells were installed on the upper wing surface along with a
lithium-ion battery pack. A new drive system replaced the human-powered drive train.
The airframe itself was not changed from its original configuration, retaining its
114-foot wingspan and extraordinarily low weight (175 lb. GTOW, including payload).
After undergoing structural validation tests and drive train modifications, the
aircraft received FAA airworthiness certification in the experimental category.