Taking off on March 9, 2015 from Abu Dhabi and landing on July 26, 2016 to Abu Dhabi, Solar Impulse 2, the world’s very first zero-fuel airplane successfully completed its flight around the world simply by solar energy. This remarkable achievement marks a new generation to the clean energy technology and the Earth.
Solar Impulse 2 was alternatively piloted by 58-year-old Bertrand Piccard and 63-year-old Andre Borschberg, who are also co-founders of the Solar Impulse company in 2002. After investing more than US$100 million in developing the solar-powering airplane over the past decade, the Solar Impulse 2 took off on March 9, 2015 and ultimately completed 17 legs to flying across the world. Solar Impulse 2’s around-the-world flight is the first flight in history that was completely solar-powered.
17,248 pieces of IBC solar cells are paved across the 72-meter wide, 2.3-ton weight airplane. The average airspeed was 75km/hr while the maximum record ground speed was 216km/hr. During the daytime, Solar Impulse 2 can fly at a maximum altitude of 8,500 meters; during the night, the flying altitude was averagely low at approximately 1,500 meters.
Solar Impulse has a special team to develop the flying technologies, and international companies including SOLVAY, OMEGA, Schindler, ABB are the strongest supporters to this ambitious program.
In the 17 legs, Solar Impulse has traveled 43,041 km by 11,566kWh of solar electricity. The flight time was 558 hours and 6 minutes. Eight world record were awarded accompany with the 15-month flight.
“This is not only a first in the history of aviation; it’s before all a first in the history of energy,” said Piccard on the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2. “I’m sure that within 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes transporting 50 passengers on short to medium haul flights. But it’s not enough. The same clean technologies used on Solar Impulse could be implemented on the ground in our daily life to divide by two the CO2 emissions in a profitable way. Solar Impulse is only the beginning, now take it further! ”
“Flying one leg with a completely new type of airplane is difficult enough, but flying around the world is a real challenge,” noted Borschberg. “More than a demonstration, it’s the confirmation that these technologies are truly dependable and reliable. There is so much potential for the aeronautical world: while one hundred percent solar powered airplanes might take longer to materialize, electric airplanes will develop in the near future because of their tremendous advantages such as energy efficiency.”
This two adventurers will continue prompting the use of modern clean technologies as a way to improve the quality of life on Earth.