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Futuristic aircraft completes first leg of inter-continental flight without using fuel

25 May 2012, Vol 3 Issue 21

The world’s largest solar powered plane, Swiss made Solar Impulse, which is attempting its first-ever cross continent flight from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland to Rabat in Morocco has successfully completed the first leg of its 2500-km flight, when it landed in Madrid’s Barajas airport, Thursday.

The aircraft has been built to fly both day and night on solar power without using any fuel.

Solar Impulse flying over Switzerland (Photo courtesy: Solar Impulse/ Stephane Gros Top inset: André Borschberg by Jacques - Henri Addor)

“The flight went very well. Thanks to the team of meteorologists, everything went according to the plan: it was extraordinary,” said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse’s CEO and co-founder, who piloted the aircraft.

“It was incredible to fly alongside the clouds during most of the flight. This confirms our confidence in the capacity of solar energy even further,” he said.

Solar Impulse will return to Madrid after its trip to Morocco. At the time of this second landing on Spanish soil, official events and a press conference will be organized.

According to a company statement, seven years of intensive work, calculations and tests by a team of 70 people and 80 partners have contributed to producing this revolutionary carbon fiber airplane, with a wingspan as wide as that of an Airbus A340 (63.4m) and a weight equivalent to that of an average family car.

“It is the largest airplane of its weight ever to have been built. The 12,000 solar cells integrated into the wing supply four electric motors (maximum power 10CV each) with renewable energy and charge the 400kg lithium polymer batteries during the day, enabling the aircraft to fly at night,” the statement said. – TWL Bureau
 

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