- It’s a single-seat monoplane designed to be able to remain airborne up to 36 hours
- The privately financed project, led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard and businessman André Borschberg, hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power
- The aircraft conducted its first test flight in December 2009
The Solar Impulse 2, claimed to be the world’s only solar-powered aircraft, took off from Oman on Tuesday to head towards Ahmedabad, launching the second leg of its epic bid to become the first such plane to fly around the world.
The aircraft took off from Muscat earlier this morning and is expected to land in Ahmedabad after flying nearly 1,465 km over the Arabian Sea.
The solar-powered aircraft had landed in Muscat yesterday after finishing the first leg of its journey. The aircraft took nearly 13 hours to reach Muscat from Abu Dhabi.
After making a landing in Ahmedabad, the aircraft’s founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg are likely to stay in the city for two days before leaving for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, a release issued by the aircraft project’s PR firm said yesterday.
Piccard and Borschberg, during their stay in the city, will reach out to the government, NGOs, universities and schools to spread the message of clean technologies.
The aircraft is also likely to hover above Ganga river in Varanasi to spread the message of cleanliness and clean energy, an official associated with the project said.
Solar Impulse is claimed to be the first aircraft to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, propelled solely by the sun’s energy, as per the project’s website.
The single-seater aircraft made of carbon fibre has a 72 meter wingspan, larger than that of Boeing-747 and weighs just 2,300 kg, equivalent to the weight of a car, it said.
The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing supply electric motors with renewable energy. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries totaling 633 kg each, which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore have virtually unlimited autonomy, the statement said.
Piccard, co-founder and co-pilot of Solar Impulse flyer said that through this attempt to complete the first solar- powered flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible.
The round-the-world flight will take-off from Abu Dhabi and make a halt at Muscat (Oman), Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Myanmar and Chongqing and Nanjing in China.
After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, the aircraft will fly across the US stopping at Phoenix, the Midwest and New York City, it said.
“Stopovers create important moments for us to communicate our message to the governments, the media and the schools and universities in every country. We want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible,” Piccard said.
The test flight of the aircraft was conducted in the US in 2013.