April 10, 2014
- Solar Impulse 2
, the new solar-powered aircraft designed to make the first around-the-world solar flight in 2015, has been completed, according to its visionaries Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.
"A vision counts for nothing unless it is backed up by action," said Piccard, Solar Impulse founder and chairman. "With eight world records for Solar Impulse 1, the first solar aircraft capable of flying during the night, crossing two continents and flying over the United States, we have shown that clean technologies and renewable energies can accomplish the impossible."
Borschberg, co-founder and CEO, added, "Now we need to go even further. Solar Impulse 2 will have virtually unlimited autonomy, and now we need to make sure the pilot is as sustainable as his aircraft. This is why the round-the-world flight will be as much a human as a technological feat."
To complete the round-the-world flight, Solar Impulse 2 will have to fly without fuel with only one pilot for five consecutive days and nights over oceans from one continent to another. The single-seater solar aircraft has a 236-foot wingspan with 17,248 solar cells powering four electric motors. It weighs in at 5,000 pounds, and has a non-pressurized, unheated cockpit specifically designed for a pilot to live there for a week.
Test flights are planned for next month, followed by training flights over Switzerland. The attempt to fly around the world is scheduled for March 2015, with the route including flight over the Arabian Sea, India, Burma, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean, and Southern Europe or North Africa. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events.