The world’s first electric-powered, self-sustaining special missions airplane was unveiled at the ILA Berlin Air Show by PC-Aero, and its first customer, IABG of Munich.
ELIAS is based on PC-Aero’s ultralight Elektra One Solar, and will be operated by IABG and its engineering subsidiary Acentiss to develop a full electric reconnaissance system, datalinks and ground stations.
The wings of ELIAS will be fitted with solar panels, greatly extending its ability to stay aloft for more than three hours and with cruise speeds in excess of 100 mph. Elektra One Solar is also here, and is flying daily during the show.
“You cannot hear Elektra One Solar from the ground when it flies over at 1,000 ft,” says Calin Gologan, the founder and president of PC-Aero, based in Nesselwang, Germany. “And you can operate it without being connected to the grid,” charging it up with solar panels on its trailer/hangar.
The six square meters of solar panels on the wings will provide more than 1kW of power for flying on a sunny day, with high energy density Li-Ion batteries providing the rest of the 2.5kW of energy needed for horizontal flight. These come from Panasonic and weigh only 40 kg.
ELIAS is equipped with a multispectral, swiveling electro-optical sensor, GPS-based inertial navigation system and an on-board data management system. It carries a bidirectional, electronically-trackable data link for transmission of video data and status data to the ground control station, and the control of the onboard sensors is integrated.
The sensor is controlled manually from the ground, leaving the pilot free to fly the plane according to the mission profile.