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Aurora's Advanced Concepts: SunLight Eagle - Green Flight

SunLight Eagle SunLight Eagle SunLight Eagle

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.