Solar Impulse 2 completes its first round-the-world journey

Solar Impulse 2 has completed the first round-the-globe fuel-free flight by a solar powered airplane, after landing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The journey took 16 months, and demonstrated the potential of renewable energy.

Swiss Solar Impulse founders and pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, took turns piloting the aircraft. Bertrand Piccard said in a statement: “This is more than an achievement in the history of aviation, Solar Impulse has made history in energy. I’m sure that within the next 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes carrying 50 passengers on short- to medium-haul flights” [1].

The 25,000 mile journey was a bumpy one, with troublesome turbulence and unfavourable weather during the 23 days in the air. The plane was built using carbon fibre, and has over 17,000 solar cells on its wings that supply the plane with renewable energy from four motors.

Neither pilot was able to stand in the cockpit while flying, and the plane did not have a pressurised cockpit, so they could feel the changes in weather.

Besides continuing to promote renewable energy, they intend to launch an international council to advise governments and develop new applications for clean energy technology.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said: “Solar Impulse has flown more than 40,000 kilometres without fuel, but with an inexhaustible supply of energy and inspiration. This is a historic day for Captain Piccard and the Solar Impulse team, but it is also a historic day for humanity” [2].

Abu Dhabi’s green energy firm Masdar is the official host partner of Solar Impulse 2.
[1] Reuters Solar plane circles globe in first for clean energy

[2] Guardian Solar plane makes history after completing round-the-world trip