Solar powered plane completes 26-hour flight successfully

Solar impulse II (HB-SIB) concept image (GFDL/SolarImpulse)

A solar powered plane designed to fly round-the-clock without traditional fuels has completed its 26-hour flight after flying continuously through the night.

The plane named ‘Solar Impulse’ is one of the first steps on the ladder of success aimed at circling the globe using only the power of the Sun.

The night flight was crucial to check whether the plane sustained on its super-efficient solar cells and batteries to stay in the air, long after sundown.

At 0900 (0700 GMT) the plane touched down at Payerne airport after a total flight time of 26-hours. While on its mission, it reached towards a peak altitude of 8,500 meters (27,900 feet).

The success story has broken all records of the longest height and flight by any solar powered plane.

Andre Borschberg, a former jet pilot in Switzerland steered the plane and is the co-founder of the Solar Impulse project along with Bertrand Piccard.

The Solar Impulse teams led by Borschberg & Piccard believe strongly that it will not be long before a continuous flight on a solar charged plane is possible.

Built of 12,000 solar cells fitted into its 193 foot of wings, Solar Impulse is a prototype of an actual aircraft, which they hope, will circumnavigate the globe by 2012.

Weighing as much as a medium-sized car at 1,600 kg and a size of an Airbus A340, the Solar Impulse runs off four electric motors and super-efficient solar-powered batteries.

Two successful test flights have been carried out previously in Payerne when the plane reached an altitude of 1,200 metres and stayed 87 minutes in the air.

Eventually, the plane is expected to achieve an of altitude of 8,500 metres (27,900 feet) at an average flying speed of 70 km (44 miles) an hour.

The Solar Impulse Project budget is estimated at CHF100 million Swiss francs (USD$94 million) out of which CHF80 million have been secured from sponsors.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply