Wow. A plane that actually runs on solar energy?! The Solar Impulse just did its first taxi tests, all completely on solar power. So far, they were low-speed and not that impressive. What’s impressive is that it was run completely on solar power. This holds great promise for the future.
Virgin Galactic is thinking ahead, although they are yet to run a commercial flight. If their spacecraft works out and the economics are there, then it may be possible to shuttle passengers on long hauls across the planet in much less time. Think Britain to Australia in 2.5 hours. That would be as big a leap as it was for the Concorde to go from London to New York in under 4 hours. I can’t wait.
MIT-originated aeronautics-cum-auto company Terrafugia is working on a small plane that is also street-legal. The most notable thing is that it could become available to regular consumers by the end of 2009.
The product, called the Transition (pictured), has 10ft wide wings that can fold up. It will cost just under $200k and run on gasoline.