Solar-Powered Plane Starts its Five-Month-Long Flight Around the World

Yunus Emre Duyar
March 12th 2015

Solar Impulse is a Swiss project with the aim to enable long term flights using solar power.  Last week, the solar-powered plane, called Solar Impulse 2, began its five-month-long flight around the world. The first aircraft, named Solar Impulse 1, was able to take off and fly depending solely on solar power.

The first test flight took place in December 2009 and, during second test in 2010, the plane managed to flight for 36 hours, with nine hours of night flight. In 2012 pilot Bertrand Piccard and businessman André Borschberg conducted successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Morocco and Spain and, in 2013, the team completed a series of plane trips across the US.

Solar Impulse 2, slightly larger than its predecessor, uses the knowledge gathered from the first prototype. Controlled by Piccard and Borschberg, the plane took off from Abu Dhabi. The team behind the project plans a multi-stage flight of 12 stops, including Oman, India, Myanmar, China and the US. The plane will travel at 50 to 100 kilometers per hour, and it will slow down during the night to save energy. After completing the challenging Pacific and Atlantic flights, each of which will take five days, the plane will return to Abu Dhabi.

A report published by the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University states that civil planes constitute about 4 per cent of the global CO2 emission. If the project becomes successful enough to be applied in commercial flights, it could potentially contribute to solve climate change problems, by reducing CO2 emissions.

You can check the progress of the project here. Story and image via Ars Technica

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