SolarStratos, a solar powered plane was in Montreal for unveiling to the public during the Northern Solar Festival. The design of the plane aims high: a flight to the Edge of Space at 25,000 meters and a goal to make the highest human flight with a propeller driven solar powered aircraft.

The proof of concept aircraft was presented to the press in Nolinor’s hangar at Mirabel. Then, wings were taken off and the aircraft put in a trailer to be presented to the public in Old Montreal July 15-18. The streamlined composite aircraft looks like a motorized sailplane with its 24.9-metre wingspan. The wings are covered with 22 square metres of solar cells connected to a lithium-ion, 20 kWh battery powering two 19 kW engines that drive a unique set of propellers.

Though a tandem dual seater, the aircraft is really a single-pilot plane with the equipment for the stratospheric flight filling the passenger space. A space suit will be required for the pilot as altitude will exceed the Armstrong Limit, where water at normal body temperature (37 degrees Celsius) boils at altitude over 19 000 meters.

Pilot Raphaël Domjan, eco-explorer, speaker and initiator of the project was on site in Montreal with SolarStratos team. Their intent was to make a demonstration low flight over Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. Unfortunately, small wheel base and oversized wingspan make the plane hypersensitive to crosswinds while taking off or landing. Weather conditions never gave an adequate window before they had to leave and go back to Switzerland. The first Solar powered human flight in Canada did not happen.

The final aircraft version will have four bigger blades and a single nose gear and should take off for the record flight in 2019.