solar-powered aircraft

Solar Impulse’s solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, has successfully completed its maiden flight in Payerne, Switzerland, marking a step ahead towards a round-the-world voyage in 2015.

Test pilot Markus Scherdel flew the Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB aircraft, which is larger than a Boeing 747-8I jet liner, from Payerne airfield.

During the flight, which lasted for two hours and 17 minutes, the aircraft reached altitudes of 5,500ft with an average ground speed of 55.6km/h to validate its handling.

The prototype aircraft is scheduled to undergo further flights near future to achieve certification.

Press Trust of India cited Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot André Borschberg as saying that, "Si2 incorporates a vast amount of new technology to render it more efficient, reliable and in particular better adapted to long haul flights."

The company said that the initial results of the aircraft flight are in line with calculations and simulations.

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BBC News quoted Solar Impulse founder, president and pilot Bertrand Piccard as saying that the Solar Impulse 2 is absolutely unique.

"The initial results of the aircraft flight are in line with calculations and simulations."

Piccard said, "And for the first time in history, we have an aeroplane that is flying with no fuel day and night, showing the incredible potential of the clean technologies.

"All these technologies that the world can also use in order to reduce the dependency to fossil fuel and to be cleaner and solve a lot of problems of pollution."

Equipped with 18,000 solar cells that will convert sunlight into electricity, the aircraft aims to fly for more than 120 hours including five days and five nights non-stop, enabling it to cross the Pacific and Atlantic legs of its global mission.

Image:The solar-powered aircraft lifted-off from Payerne airfield. Photo: courtesy of Solar Impulse.

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