World’s first solar powered aircraft to attempt round the world flight

Aviation technology has taken some giant steps forward recently as it has been revealed that an aircraft that operates totally on solar energy will attempt to make a round the world flight in March of next year.

The design is part of the Solar Impulse project that was founded over ten years ago by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The Solar Impulse2 plane intends to demonstrate how far an aircraft will be able to travel without fuel and being powered only by solar energy.

The Solar Impulse has a wingspan of 72 metres and its wings carry 17,200 solar cells. The solar cells power electric motors during the day that drive four propellers to give it lift, but at night it is all down to the batteries to keep the aircraft airborne. Remarkably the aircraft weighs a mere 2, 300 kilos.

The aircraft was revealed to the public earlier this month and Piccard and Borschberg are expected to begin test flights in May before embarking on their 35,000-kilometer journey next March. Their journey will begin from the Gulf region in the Middle East where pilots will then fly over India, Myanmar and China, cross the Pacific, the United States and the Atlantic with the aim of returning to their departure point.

Speaking about their record breaking attempt Mr Borschberg said “What we have now is the first aeroplane in the world which has unlimited endurance. It can fly a day and a night, it can fly a week, it can fly a month — theoretically it can fly a year. It’s the most energy efficient airplane ever built.”

If successful the pair will certainly go a long way in raising awareness about solar power and a more energy efficient way of travelling. The hope to show that by using renewable energy, the aviation industry could potentially operate in the future without using fuel at all.

 

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