Skydweller technology arose from the development of the Swiss solar-powered aircraft project Solar Impulse, led by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The project has been in operation for 14 years, has invested $ 190 million, after which the fund behind it sold the intellectual property to Skydweller in 2019. While Solar Impulse’s primary focus was on the development of a piloting system, the project is now more focused on creating an ultra-long-range solar-powered aircraft.
The aircraft will be fully electric, equipped with 204 square meters of solar panels, 600 kg batteries, and a hydrogen fuel cell back-up system. Solar panels are used for more than just maintaining flight; they will also provide power to systems for devices such as geospatial camera systems or telecommunications services.
The company uses standard commercial aviation parts, but most have not been tested beyond a certain number of hours of use – far less than the number of hours Skydweller plans to keep the plane aloft, of course. In addition, as with other aircraft built using the latest technology, a complete certification system has not yet been established for this vehicle.
Skydweller already launched a flight test campaign in 2020 and has since then focused on installing and testing autonomous systems technologies. The startup adds that “in a very short time” the company will conduct tests of an autonomous aircraft, including takeoff, full flight, and landing, and in the future will switch to long-term flights.