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German company Elektra Solar announced on Tuesday that it had completed the first flight of its Elektra Two Solar, a very long wingspan plane designed for long-endurance flight. The plane had a pilot on board, the company said (and presumably, the pilot had controls!), but no inputs from the pilot were needed.
The lack of a pilot is a strong engineering benefit too, as the plane is designed to fly to very high-altitudes, up to 60,000 feet. The recent test flight went to no such altitudes, as low weather restricted it essentially to pattern work.
Elektra Solar says that other features of the new plane are redundant systems and “virtually noiseless” flights. The company says that it’s working for “day and night flight missions,” but that is a lofty goal. We’ll keep you updated.