Solar Impulse Will Make the First Ever Oceanic Crossing in a Solar Powered Airplane

Solar Impulse
View from the GoPro camera outside the plane on the 5th leg of the journey.

On May 4 2015, in front of more than 100 representatives from international and Chinese media, Co-Founders and Pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg elaborated on the 12 years of preparations and training which have gone into building a revolutionary airplane powered by energy, designed to fly around the world without fuel, and cross oceans, in potentially difficult flight and weather conditions. 

André Borschberg, with his 40 years of flying experience will pilot Solar Impulse on this first exploration leg from Nanjing to Hawaii. This first ever aviation pioneering adventure into unknown territory will be the longest flight for a single pilot airplane in duration, ever flown with any type of airplane, expected to last at least 5 days and 5 nights.

André Borschberg, Co-Founder and Pilot of Solar Impulse, who has been flying since the age of 17:  “This is the moment of truth. If successful, this flight to Hawaii will demonstrate the credibility of the vision Bertrand had 16 years ago of an airplane flying for days without fuel to change our mindset regarding the enormous potential of clean technologies and renewable energies.”

André will draw on Bertrand’s experience as an explorer acquired during his long duration world record balloon flights whereby he crossed the world’s oceans and circumnavigated the globe.

For Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Pilot of Solar Impulse,“This is the exploration leg of the flight around the world. It will be an important milestone for aviation with an airplane capable for the first time ever to fly with unlimited endurance. This represents an extraordinary illustration of technological innovation which André initiated and led during the last 12 years”.

If this flight is successful, Bertrand will then fall back on André’s experience in order to fly the next leg from Hawaii to Phoenix. Arriving on the US continent will be yet a further illustration of Solar Impulse’s overall objective, illustrating how clean technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency can achieve the impossible.

After 6 legs over-land during the current Round-the-World Solar Flight, the first leg of the Pacific crossing will validate years of technological, operational and pilot training strategies. Does Solar Impulse 2 have the capability to make this first ocean crossing and then succeed with the rest of the round-the-world journey?  Will the Pilots’ endurance training suffice to enable him to withstand the complexities and challenges of a long non-stop flight? And are the weather and operational choices for an experimental airplane, which is as wide as a jumbo jet and as lights as a car, hence sensitive to turbulence, the right ones?

The flight mission window opened on May 5 and Solar Impulse is awaiting favorable weather conditions, which can come about in a few days or a few weeks. As the flight will last at least 5 days and 5 nights the weather forecasts at destination will be at least 6 days old, which makes it very challenging.

The next possible departure date is Tuesday, May 12th. Stay tuned!


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