BAE Systems is developing a solar plane that can stay airborne for a year

BAE Systems and Prismatic have joined forces to build a new solar electric plane that could fly for up to a year before needing maintenance.

Experts suggest that the first test flights for the plane, known as PHASA-35, could take place as early as 2019.

While no passengers will be on board, BAE Systems believes that the plane could offer a year-round low cost service for a wide range of needs.

This includes surveillance and vital communications in remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight operation.

The plane has a 35-metre wingspan and weighs just 150kg.

This efficient build allows it to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time.

It has ultra-lightweight solar cells on its wings, which use energy from the sun to power the plane.

A quarter-scale model called PHASE-8 completed a successful test flight in 2017, which BAE Systems hopes to build on.

Michael Christie, Strategy Director within BAE Systems’ Air sector, said: “Prismatic is a fast paced and forward thinking company and PHASA-35 is a great example of what the team can achieve in a short space of time.

“We were keen to invest in the programme as part of our long term strategy to explore new technologies and solutions in air and space.”

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