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Not a Drop of Fuel Used by Solar Powered Airplane to Complete a Globe-Circling Flight

Not a Drop of Fuel Used by Solar Powered Airplane to Complete a Globe-Circling Flight
Predictions that within a decade, commercial flights with electric aircraft will become a reality have started after a round-the-world trip in a solar-powered airplane was completed by a 63-year-old former Swiss Air Force pilot and a hypnotherapist five years his junior with a penchant for hot-air balloon exploration.
The project team said in a statement that the final leg of a 16-month multistage journey was completed when Solar Impulse managed to be successfully landed at 4:05 a.m. in Abu Dhabi by Bertrand Piccard, 58. Since starting the trip in March 2015, this completely solar powered plane has flown 43,041 kilometers (26,750 miles).
“I’m sure that within 10 years, we’ll see electric airplanes transporting 50 passengers on short- to medium-haul flights. But it’s not enough. The same clean technologies used on Solar Impulse could be implemented on the ground in our daily life,” Piccard said in the statement.
The plane was flown in turn by Piccard and Andre Borschberg whiule the duo roamed right across the globe without using even a drop of any other form of fuel. While the longest leg took five days, each pilot was allowed 10 20-minute naps over the course of 24 hours. Solar Impulse was grounded for more than half a year in Hawaii due to battery overheating along the way and it flew near the Statue of Liberty and Egypt’s pyramids for photo opportunities.
“There is so much potential for the aeronautical world. While 100 percent solar-powered airplanes might take longer to materialize, electric airplanes will develop in the near future,” Borschberg said.
The plane has been promoted continuously as a symbol of options for alternative energy to stave off global warming by the pilots during the round-the-world trip. The plane itself relies on 12,000 solar panels for power and is made of ultralight materials. He wants Solar Impulse to revive interest in promoting clean technology, Piccard said.
“When you speak of climate change, it is so boring for everybody. Everybody knows it is a disaster, so why continuously repeat it? Now you have to give hope to people with real solutions, and they exist,” and “my hope is that people finally make a list of solutions rather than a list of problems,” Piccard said in an interview on “Bloomberg Markets Middle East”.
The solar airplane did its round-the-world flight in a total of about ten stages due to the fact that it is not possible to fly over oceans and continents in a single attempt. The stopovers were planned to allow some respite to the plane and the pilots before setting off again. Since the plane is a singleseater - the only seat in the cockpit is the one for the person at the controls, these stopovers also allowed the pilots to take over from each other.

One of the prerequisites for the plane to fly unhindered is good weather and hence the departure time and location for the round-the-world flight have not been decided by chance. The flight path and stopovers  were so chosen that it allowed for the plane to get enough sunlight for power and avoid treacherous weather, heavy rains and high winds.
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Christopher J. Mitchell

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