June 4, 2014 - Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered electric aircraft created by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, made its first successful flight on Monday, June 2, from the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland.
This is the airplane that Piccard and Borschberg plan to fly around the world in 2015. Solar Impulse 2’s updated technology make it more efficient and reliable to handle long haul flights.
Piccard stated that the “suspense was at a high” for Monday’s first flight, but he is pleased with the flight results. “The results show that our team of engineers can be very proud of the work it has accomplished during the last 10 years,” he said.
Borschberg added that the first flight is a small achievement toward their ultimate goal. “This inaugural flight is an important stage - a step closer towards the round-the-world flight. It is also a huge emotional step for the entire team and all our partners who have worked on the aircraft.”
Professional test pilot Markus Scherdel was at the controls Monday testing the aircraft’s performance in a flight lasting two hours and 17 minutes. Highest altitude reached was 5,500 feet AGL, and the average ground speed was 30 knots.
Several more flights will take place in the coming months to achieve aircraft certification, followed by training flights for Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg later in the season, also from Payerne.
The round-the-world solar-powered flight attempt is scheduled to begin in March 2015 from the Persian Gulf area. The planned route includes flights over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific Ocean, the United States, the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe or North Africa before closing the loop by returning to the departure point. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.
Video of the first flight: