(CNN) — An innovative aircraft that turns into a “lighter-than-air” balloon to propel itself forward has been flown for the first time.
The Phoenix is designed to repeatedly switch between being lighter and heavier than air to generate thrust and allow it to stay in the skies indefinitely.
Officially known as an “ultra-long endurance autonomous aircraft,” it was developed by scientists in Scotland and flown over a distance of 120 meters (394 feet) during its first test flight in March.
The blimp-like aircraft, which is 15 meters long and has a wingspan of 10.5 meters, has been designed for businesses and scientific use, and its creators hope it will revolutionize the telecommunications industry.
The team behind the aircraft also believe it could be used to provide Wi-Fi coverage to remote areas.
The Phoenix is similar in design to a blimp.
University of the Highlands and Islands
The vehicle’s fuselage contains helium, allowing to to ascend, as well as an air bag that inhales and compresses air, enabling it to descend.
It also features solar cells on its wings and tail, which charge the battery that powers its valves and pumps.