09 Mar 2015

Around the World in a Solar Airplane - Solar Impulse 2 Took-Off This Morning From Abu Dhabi

FAI Secretary Susanne Schödel witnessed Solar Impulse take-off this morning in Abu Dhabi to reach Muscat (Oman), before crossing the Arabian Sea to Ahmedabad (India).

André Borschberg flew Si2 at 7:12 (GMT +4) this morning, performing the first stage of the Round-The-World Flight using zero fuel. Piccard will take the reins in Oman and continue onward to Ahmedabad (India). Co-pilots Piccard and Borschberg will take turns flying the single-seater experimental solar aircraft which is able to fly with perpetual endurance.

Dr. John Grubbström and Susanne Schödel met both pilots on Saturday in Abu Dhabi and wished them a safe and successful journey.

It has taken twelve years for Bertrand Piccard (initiator and chairman) and André Borschberg (founder and CEO), to be able to finally attempt to make their dream a reality - demonstrating the importance of renewable energy conceived through a pioneering spirit and innovation.

Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, Solar Impulse will travel 35,000 kilometers around the world in 25 days over the course of roughly 5 months. Si2 will pass over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China and the Pacific Ocean. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before completing the Round-The-World flight at its final destination in Abu Dhabi, Solar Impulse’s official host city. During the 12 scheduled stops, the Solar Impulse team and its partners will organize public events for governments, schools and universities.

Solar Impulse is an ambitious scientific project, but for those passionate about exploration, this visionary journey is also a strong message for clean technologies. Supported by Prince Albert of Monaco, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Richard Branson and Al Gore, the #FutureIsClean initiative has been launched on www.solarimpulse.com to recruit the severely needed support for the adoption of clean technologies worldwide.

"We are very ambitious in our goal, but modest given the magnitude of the challenge. This is an attempt, and only time will tell if we can overcome the numerous weather, technical, human and administrative issues", said Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

Solar Impulse 2

The single-seater solar aircraft has a wingspan of 72 meters for its weight of just 2,300 Kg , producing an exceptional aerodynamic performance and energy efficiency. There is a 3.8 m3 cockpit, every detail of which has been designed for a pilot to live there for a week. However, for the sake of maximum energy efficiency, the cabin is not pressurized or heated – a further endurance challenge for the pilot.

"Solar Impulse was not built to carry passengers, but to carry messages. We want to demonstrate the importance of the pioneering spirit, to encourage people to question what they've always taken for granted. The world needs to find new ways of improving the quality of human life. Clean technologies and renewable forms of energy are part of the solution," Bertrand Piccard added.

Technical datasheet

  • Batteries energy density: 4 x 260 Wh/kg
  • Airplane Weight: 2,3 tons
  • Wingspan: 72 meter (236')
  • Solar Cells Thickness: 135 micron
  • Solar Cells: > 17,000
  • Cockpit Size: 3.8 m3

Solar Impulse world records

Since 2010, the FAI ratified 8 world records achieved by André Borschberg onboard Solar Impulse: in 2010, he broke 3 records with a flight from Payerne, Switzerland; in 2012, 2 records were ratified following a flight from Payerne to Madrid; in 2013, 3 more records were broken during the Phoenix (Arizona) to Dallas (Texas) leg of the Across America Mission.

CSAbsolute altitude9235 m2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16042
CSDuration26 h 10 m 19 s2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16044
CSGain of height8744 m2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16043
CSFree Distance along a course1116 km2012-05-25André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16560
CSStraight distance, pre-declared waypoints1099.3 km2012-05-25André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - superseded since approved16558
CSDistance along a course, pre-declared waypoints1487.6 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16816
CSFree Distance1506.5 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16817
CSStraight distance, pre-declared waypoints1386.5 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16815