PAYERNE, 10 MARCH 2010 – FAI Secretary-General Stéphane Desprez was among 250 official guests to attend the arrival of Solar Impulse, the revolutionary solar-powered aeroplane pioneered by FAI’s Honorary Patron Bertrand Piccard, at its new hangar in Payerne, Switzerland.
The arrival of Solar Impulse in Payerne marks an end to the plane’s ground-testing and it is now set for airborne trials.
Piccard and co-pilot André Borschberg plan to make their first test flights by the end of March, initially at an altitude of 1000m, then climbing to 3000m. Night flights are slated for May/June.
In 1999 Piccard completed the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, achieving the longest flight in the history of aviation, in terms of both duration and distance (45,755km in 19 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes), setting a total of 7 world records ratified by FAI.
Now, with Solar Impulse, he aims to fly around the world in an aircraft which produces zero pollution, demonstrating the key role played by high technology in sustainable development.
FAI will be keeping a close eye on the progress of its Honorary Patron, with a view to monitoring any new world records that may be set during the programme.
Speaking at the Payerne ceremony, Piccard stressed society’s need for renewable forms of energy, adding that “conditions in Payerne are perfect” for preparing the project. Of course, members of the public will be welcome for each flight, and will also be able to get close to the unique aircraft the day before each test flight.