Bye Aerospace’s StratoAirNet prototype has successfully slapped solar cells on its unmanned aerial glider.
The Bye Aerospace StratoAirNet Prototype
Bye Aerospace installed solar cells on its StratoAirNet to further liberate this unmanned electric aerial vehicle (UAV). Ground tests on both wings proved its flight worthiness at high (up to 35,000 feet) and medium altitudes, as well as on long-endurance solar-electric flights. The solar cells, battery pack, and propulsion system were tested in flight for overall performance, along with using autoflight control optimization.
As with most gliders, light weight is crucial. The StratoAirNet makes use of carbon composite as well as having a very aerodynamically efficient design.
Technically speaking, the StratoAirNet has a payload of up to 70 lb.
By now, savvy pilots will probably question a glider flying at 35,000 ft, let alone a UAV. In order to avoid FAA airspace restrictions, the StratoAirNet 15 prototype, which sports a 15-meter wing, was operated by a pilot. The tests conducted with a real pilot accomplished results at a faster pace than originally planned.
SolAero provided the solar cells, but it’s not just a supplier. According to George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace: “SolAero is a business and engineering partner in every sense of the word.” He further expressed his gratitude and thanks to the SolAero team for their active participation in developing the versatile StratoAirNet UAV and for helping achieve “atmospheric satellite” capability.
The company can now continue to the next stage of assembly and testing.
Bye Aerospace’s Clean Energy & Electric Powertrain Passion
If the name Bye Aerospace sounds familiar, that’s because we already covered the company’s amazing two-seat “Sun Flyer 2” and its new 4-seat “Sun Flyer 4.” Aero Electric Aircraft Corporation (AEAC) was established in February 2014 and has begun producing and bringing the vehicles to market. The company aims to serve the general aviation industry with clean renewable energy and electric training aircraft.
Bye Aerospace has another intriguing project called the Silent Falcon Solar Electric, a UAV developed by Silent Falcon USA Technologies and supported by Bye Aerospace.
The Silent Falcon is also a solar electric UAV that uses an onboard electric power plant fed by thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) cells. It includes a high-efficiency 6 blade propulsion system. The idea is to produce a very long-endurance, quiet, and zero-emissions UAV.
The challenge with the Silent Falcon was to use an efficient electric motor to provide efficient climb rates and cruising speeds. The UAV is aimed at surveillance. It is easily transportable and has a low thermal signature with a proprietary sensor gimbal, “Falcon Vision,” as well as an electro-optical and infrared camera on a lightweight mechanically and digitally stabilized gimbaled payload. As you can guess, the military is what Bye Aerospace is targeting.
You might also recall the XTI Aircraft Company’s “TriFan 600,” which is a hybrid-electric VTOL business aircraft we covered here.
Finally, the company is also working on the Mars SOLESA, a solar-electric aircraft to fill the gap between mapping and surveillance of Mars from orbital satellites and ground-based rovers. And it is working on a US Navy award via the Global Near Space Services (GNSS) program for a research contract to develop a two-stage lighter than air (LTA) UAV. This program developed a clean, cost-effective satellite-type capability that uses a high-altitude, upper-stage, shaped LTA coupled with an unpiloted, detachable, flying, lower stage UAV containing sensor systems.
Who Is George Bye anyway? George Bye is an aviation entrepreneur with two decades’ worth of experience under his belt. He founded Bye Aerospace in 2007 and has concentrated on aerodynamics, composite structures, and alternative energy drivetrains.
But the question still remains, are the Sun Flyer 2 and 4 the only commercial projects or will we see more commercial and private applications coming out of the Bye Aerospace research? The new alternative energy aviation industry is a close-knit family affair and we can only imagine spinoffs will happen that will target commercial industries.
In the meantime, we’re excited to see Bye Aerospace working on the StratoAirNet prototype 15 and making it a clean energy, long-distance UAV.
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