The Strategist

Solar Impulse 2 completes second leg of its world tour

03/11/2015 - 17:02

Solar Impulse 2 completes second leg of its world tour
World’s first fuel-free airplane Solar Impulse completed its second leg of attempt to go around the world.

The plane cruised for over 15 hours from Muscat to India crossing the Arabian Sea, according to the project chairman Bertrand Piccard who piloted it. The landmark journey is aimed to promote green energy in the aviation sector and also tests the endurance of its pilots. The distance covered by the plane in this journey is also a new world record for a solar-powered plane.

The impulse doesn’t stop here. It aims to jumpstart another 10 legs over five months to cover the entire world and will be piloted by Piccard and the CEO of the company Andre Borschberg.

The new model of Solar Impulse flight which is used in this journey has a wingspan of 72m, which is wider than a 747 jumbo jet. But its overall weight at only 2.3 tonnes has been critical in its success. The plane has around 17,000 solar cells that line its wings and uses lithium-ion batteries for night-time flying. The only disadvantage of the plane is its slow speed making it daunting for the pilots to cruise it day and night.

The privately-funded Swiss-based company started the construction of the second Solar Impulse aircraft in 2011. Completion was initially planned for 2013, with a 25-day circumnavigation of the globe planned for 2014. However, a structural failure of the aircraft's main spar occurred during static tests in July 2012, leading to delays in the flight testing schedule to allow for repairs. HB-SIB's first flight occurred at Payerne aerodrome on 2 June 2014.

Meanwhile, aviation industry leaders are examining the potential incorporation of solar energy into their operations.