Solar-powered aircraft resumes round-the-world odyssey from Hawaii

Published on : Friday, April 22, 2016

Solar-powered aircraftThe Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 resumed its round-the-world odyssey Thursday after 9 month-long delay on a Hawaiian island. The aircraft took off across the Pacific Ocean en route to the US West Coast.

 
Pilot Bertrand Piccard lifted off at 1616 GMT from Kalaeloa Airport on Oahu for the 62-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean to Mountain View, California.

 
From Mountain View, the journey is planned to continue across the United States, then over the Atlantic to Europe or North Africa and back to Abu Dhabi.

 
The fuel-free flight to promote clean-energy technology continues a route that began in 2015 in Abu Dhabi and took the experimental aircraft over more than 18,000 kilometers to India, Myanmar, China and Japan on the first half of its global circumnavigation.

 
Andre Borschberg, the project’s co-founder and pilot who alternates turns flying with Piccard, called out a message as the plane took flight.

 
Engineers in the flight team’s control centre in Monaco clapped and cheered, joined by a grinning Prince Albert, one of the project’s sponsors.

 
Solar Impulse 2 set a record for the longest solar-powered flight on the last leg of its journey, flying nearly 8,300 kilometers non-stop in July from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii.

 

Battery problems that arose during the five-day flight had left the experimental aircraft stranded for the nine months since then.

 

The aircraft uses energy collected by solar panels to charge its batteries, enabling slow but virtually unlimited non-stop flight in sunny skies.

 

But the cockpit has room for only one pilot – making round-the-clock flying an endurance challenge.

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