It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … Hy-Bird! The race to fly a “green” plane around the world is on, and French company Lisa Airplanes says its zero-carbon Hy-Bird aircraft will make the trip as early as the summer of 2009.
The Hy-Bird—which looks kind of like an airborne high-heeled shoe—is made of lightweight carbon fibre and weighs in at just 1.1 tons. The tail and wings—20 metres or 65 feet tip to tip—are outfitted with photovoltaic cells to supply energy for takeoff and onboard power supply. A hydrogen fuel cell (hence the name, “Hy-Bird”) provides power while the craft is in flight.
“It is solely powered by an electric engine,” Lisa President Erick Herzberger explains. “It will be the first airplane that does not emit any greenhouse gas and is completely silent.”
It could still be years before travellers can book a flight on a Hy-Bird, and when they do, flight times will likely be significantly longer—cruising speed for Lisa’s first model is an estimated 150 kilometres or 95 miles an hour, compared to 920 kilometres or 570 miles an hour for the average 747.
The company hopes, though, that the technology will improve and the plane’s maiden voyage will inspire excitement about the future of clean transportation.
Ode is the magazine for intelligent optimists. For information or to subscribe, visit the site here.