The quest to create solar-powered electric planes goes back at least to 1980 with the creation of the MacCready Gossamer Penguin, and the field has grown with the rise of lightweight composites and more efficient photoelectric cells. The best-known example is Solar Impulse 2.
Flying several years on solar power is possible according to Boeing.
Boeing’s plane stays aloft powered solely by sunlight. It flies without an on board human pilot, so it’s controlled from a station on the ground.
Its winglets aren't just for stability; they also gather low-angle sunlight for months and even years. They are relatively long, up to 0.7 times the length of the main wing.
The plane is ideal for communication systems use with radio signals, cell phone signals, microwave transmissions, television broadcasts, and even Internet connections.
The plane could also be equipped with atmospheric sensing systems for measuring wind, temperature, humidity, gases present, sunlight, and other purposes.
Some say that the plane could one day replace satellites, for the moment, nothing is sure, let’s remain realistic.