Swiss solar plane to fly for 2 days

2012-03-28 18:51

Geneva - The Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse will attempt to fly from Switzerland to Morocco in coming weeks, in its longest flight to date, organisers said on Wednesday.

"After its inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels in 2011, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg's solar airplane will attempt, for the first time ever, to fly over 2 500km without using a drop of fuel, finally landing in Morocco," said the project in a statement.

Piccard and Borschberg will take turns to pilot the plane during the 48-hour journey, with a stopover near Madrid expected for the swap.

The trip, expected for May or June, would be a rehearsal in the run-up to the plane's round-the-world flight planned for 2014.

"Flying as far as this, powered only by solar energy will be excellent training for the round-the-world trip," said Borschberg, co-founder and chief executive of Solar Impulse.

The high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a large airliner but weighs no more than a saloon car, made history in July 2010 as the first manned plane to fly around the clock on the sun's energy.

It holds a record for the longest flight by a manned solar-powered aeroplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, also setting a record for altitude by flying at 9 235m.

It has since flown several times, notably between the Geneva and Zurich airports, as well as to Paris and Brussels.

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-03-28 19:38

    Now wait for the fuel companies to buy the technology and bury it!!!

      Groot - 2012-03-28 20:28

      Blessie, How did you know? So true.

      Soetdoring - 2012-05-28 00:04

      Now why would fuel companies be interested? This poses no threat to them. Read the article again and note 1. It has a wingspan that of a large airliner, but the body is not larger than a saloon car. This means this aircraft is very limited in the number of passengers or cargo it can carry because it will need stronger engines which are heavy and require more electricity the solar cells can deliver. 2. Note the niche in which it operates - very high altitudes or arid places like Marocco where there is very few clouds. Solar cells do not operate well (if at all) with cloud cover. 3. Any chance these aircraft would be able to fly during night? - none whatsoever.

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