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Last Updated: Sunday August 24 2008 13:19 GMT

Solar plane shatters world record

Undated QinetiQ handout picture of the Zephyr High Altitude Long Endurance

A British-built solar-powered plane has shattered the world record time for the longest flight without anyone on board.

The Zephyr stayed in the air on auto-pilot for a staggering 82 hours 37 minutes - about three and a half days!

It managed the epic flight by running on solar power in the day and batteries that are charged by the sun, at night.

But despite smashing the old record of 30 hours 24 minutes, a spokesman said it wouldn't count because they hadn't meet all the rules to make it official.

"We were more concerned about demonstrating the technology than the record status," he said.

The plane, which is called The Zephyr High Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, was built by a UK company called QinetiQ.

Search and rescue

It completed its mammoth test flight from 28-31 July at an Army bas in Arizona, America.

Engineers behind the Zephyr are now trying to develop it so it can stay in flight for months at a time.

It's hoped it can then be used to help in war zones or in search and rescue missions.

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