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Solar Powered Airplane

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted July 26, 2012

The first intercontinental two-way flight entirely powered by solar energy, a 4,000-mile trip, has just come to a satisfactory conclusion. The Solar Impulse experimental airplane endured a two-month journey that was intended to be a test of the project’s reliability and to garner publicity for solar power in the travel industry.

MSNBC quotes pilot Bernard Piccard, Solar Impulse founder:

“The goal of this airplane is not just to go from one point to another, but to fly as long as we wish, promote renewable energy and ambitious energy policies. All of these have been so successful.”

Solar Impulse flew from Payerne, Switzerland to Morocco and back. Pilots Piccard and André Borschberg each took turns at the single-seat airplane cockpit for the duration.

Solar Impulse made some stopovers, including at Rabat, Madrid, Toulouse, and Ouarzazate which featured particularly challenging turbulence, MSNBC reported.

Although Solar Impulse made most of its flight during daylight hours, it usually returned to its hangar with batteries fully charged.

This isn’t the first flight it has made; in 2010, Solar Impulse flew for 26 hours as a test.

Currently, the Solar Impulse team is using the airplane to rack up a series of distance records in an effort to increase publicity and recognition.

This particular project occurred jointly with Morocco’s increased investment in renewable projects with a view both to generate jobs and to shift away from conventional fuels.

Borschberg, who is also the CEO of Solar Impulse, commented:

“It’s been an extraordinary adventure, not only for what we’ve achieved with this airplane, originally only designed to demonstrate the possibility of flying day and night with a purely solar energy, but also for what has resulted in a tightly fused team, confident in the project and in their capacity to make it happen.”

Project partners include Solvay (EBR: SOLB), Omega, Schindler, and Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB).

See more on Solar Impulse here.

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