Solar Aircraft Unveiled

Charles Eadie On April 9, 2014, two pilots, Andr Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, unveiled a new solar-powered plane in in Payerne, Switzerland. The pilots told an audience of industry officials that the solar plane, named Solar Impulse 2, will be used in 2015 to circumnavigate the world in five consecutive days without any fuel. If completed, the Swiss pilots will be first to fly around the world in a solar-powered aircraft.

In 2013, Borschberg and Piccard flew a first-generation prototype of the solar plane from California to New York. The trip across the United States took two months and included five planned stops. Since the first flight, which touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 6, 2013, the design of the solar plane has been adjusted in preparation of the 2015 mission.

When Solar Impulse was first introduced, engineers were skeptical about the solar plane’s design, saying that it would be nearly impossible to construct such a lightweight solar plane with enough energy to fly for long periods of time. However, the Solar Impulse aircrafts are the first solar planes that are able to fly day and night without any onboard fuel. Powered by solar panels and batteries that charge during the day, the ultra-lightweight planes are able to fly through the night. Solar Impulse 2’s wingspan stretches 236 feet, longer than a Boeing 747 commercial jet, and is covered with 17,000 solar cells that power the plane’s operating systems.

Solar Impulse was designed to raise awareness of the potential of clean energy solutions and to demonstrate the technology effectively. Borschberg, Piccard, and various engineers who helped construct the solar aircraft hope that the 2015 around-the-world mission will prove the efficiency of alternative energy and lead to even more innovations in the field of clean energy and technology.

For more information about Solar Impulse 2, please visit http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/04/10/solar-powered-plane-aims-for-round-world-flight/.