Solar Impulse 2 commences its global circumnavigation
Solar Impulse 2 commences its global circumnavigation

 

 

 

Solar Impulse 2 departed Al Bateen Executive Airport, Abu Dhabi at 07:12 local time (03:12 GMT) this morning (March 9) on the first leg of its attempt to fly around the world using only solar energy.


Andre Borschberg was at the controls for this first 400km leg to Muscat in Oman, which will take up to 12 hours. The trans-oceanic legs will up to five or six days to fly and the pilot relying on only 20 minute catnaps throughout.


Flying the single seat aircraft on its circumnavigation will be shared between Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss pilots say their aim is to create awareness about replacing "old polluting technologies with clean and efficient technologies."


From Oman, the plane will make two stops in India, then fly to China and Burma before heading across the Pacific its first US stop in Hawaii. Two more US stops will be made in Phoenix and New York JFK before the Atlantic flight and a either in Southern Europe or Morocco before returning to Abu Dhabi in late July/August.


Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan of 72m and weighs 2.3 tonnes.  17,000 solar cells line the top of the wings, and energy-dense lithium-ion batteries store sufficient power to sustain night-time flying.