An unmanned aerial drone flew continuously for fourteen days and twenty-one minutes, shattering the previous world record by 250 hours. Climbing to heights of 70,000 feet, the plane uses powerful solar panels to keep flying day and night.
The Zephyr is the work of the British defense technology firm QinetiQ. It weighs just 110 pounds and has a 75-foot wingspan. The goal of QinetiQ's work with the Zephyr is to create what they call "an eternal plane," a craft that can remain constantly engaged in surveillance and other drone activities for months at a time without having to land.
The plane is able to fly at night by storing huge amounts of energy during the day using its solar panels. This incarnation of the Zephyr is about 50% bigger than previous models, providing more surface area for the panels and more space for the lithium batteries inside that power the craft. The previous record for continuous flight was nine days for a human-piloted aircraft, and barely more than a day for a drone.