You might have heard about the solar-powered plane yet that goes by the name of Solar Impulse 2, but have you already heard about their latest flight breaking world records? The RTW (or Round-The-World solar airplane is currently on it’s mission around the world, being powered only by solar energy. The aircraft is piloted by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg and their adventure started in Abu Dhabi crossing Muscat, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Mandalay, Chongqing, Nanjing, Nagoya and arrived in Hawaii today. The remaining destinations are Phoenix, New York moving on to Europe and getting back to Abu Dhabi.
About the Solar Impulse Aircraft
The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft flies without a single drop of fuel and is able to fly day and night. That means that the plane has an unlimited endurance and the only requirement for the craft to go down to land on the travel waypoints is due to its human pilot. The single-seater aircraft is made of carbon fiber, making it as light as possible to reduce the required energy used to keep the craft in the air. It has a 72 meter wingspan which is actually longer than that of the Boeing 747. It weighs only 2,300 kg which sounds a lot at first but actually its more comparable to a car than comparable to another plane.
“Can you imagine that a solar-powered airplane without fuel can now fly longer than a jet plane?! … This is a clear message that clean technologies can achieve impossible goals!”
– Bertrand Piccard, Chairman and Co-Founder of Solar Impulse
Breaking World Records of Solar Flying
The Solar Impulse 2 set a new record now by making the most distance and air-time a solar-powered plane has ever completed. The pilot André Borschberg landed today in Hawaii coming from Japan which is a distance of 3,519 miles (or 5,663 km) in 80 hours. This marks the half of the whole adventure around the world and the project is going very strong right now.
What Does That Mean Altogether?
Overall this is a great proof of the research and engineering effort that is being invested in solar-powered means of flying. Yes, it is not comparable to the speed of modern jet engines that require fuel to stay in the air, but it is a lot better than the first attempts of fuel-based flying back in the early days of aviation history. Can you grasp it? This 80 hour long flight was just powered by solar energy. This is unbelievably strong and for me it indicates that the age of solar-powered transportation has only started.
In the words of Solar Impulse: Future Is Clean!
YouTube: Solar Impulse Airplane : Exploration To Change The World
Photo credit: Solar Impulse