TECH

Solar Impulse Completes Historic 42,000km Round-The-World Journey

42,000 kilometres using nothing but sunlight.

26/07/2016 10:55

Solar Impulse has completed the first round-the-world solar powered flight by landing at its final destination of Abu Dhabi.

The plane has flown a total of 42,000km using not a single drop of conventional fuel, instead relying on a huge bank of solar cells installed on the wings of the aircraft.

Pilot Betrand Piccard landed the plane safely after launching for the final leg from Cairo.

Handout . / Reuters

The flight contained a number of record-breaking achievements including the world’s longest uninterrupted solo flight by fellow pilot Andre Borschberg.

Mr Borschberg flew 8,924km from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii, a flight which took an astonishing 118 hours.

In total 19 aviation records were set during the year-long flight.

Both Mr Piccard and Mr Borschberg have been taking it in turns to pilot the experimental aircraft.

What’s possibly even more astonishing is the plane itself.  

Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Solar Impulse 2 weighs no more than a conventional car, and yet it has a wingspan that surpasses even the Boeing 747.

Using 17,000 solar cells installed on the plane’s wings, four electric motors then turn huge 4-metre long propellors. This allows the plane to travel at an average speed of 70km/h.

Handout . / Reuters

Then there’s the cockpit. Around the size of a telephone box, the pilots had to wear oxygen tanks so they could breathe at high altitude while sleep was limited to just 20 minutes at a time.

The project took 13 years to achieve and the hope is that from this flight new technologies can be developed which better utilise solar power.

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