Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) successfully completed on July 26 the first ever circumnavigation of the world by a solar-powered electric aircraft using only the energy of the sun.
Its landing in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates concluded the historic 43,041km circumnavigation that began on March 9, 2015, when Si2 set off from the UAE capital with André Borschberg at the controls. Solar Impulse said in a statement, “Si2 has proven that clean technologies can achieve the impossible.”
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg took turns flying legs in the single-seater cockpit and have collectively flown Si2 around the world in 17 legs, crossing Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the USA, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Middle East. A total of 19 world records were set or are still pending by the World Air Sports Federation (FAI), including when André Borschberg accomplished the pioneering first of flying five consecutive days and nights, which was achieved across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii in the longest duration a solo airplane of any kind has ever flown; and when Bertrand Piccard achieved the historic first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a solar airplane.
The final leg of the endeavor saw Si2, with Bertrand Picard at the controls, depart from Cairo, Egypt, on July 23, 2016 and then land in Abu Dhabi, UAE, 48 hours and 37 minutes later at 04:05am local time (UTC+4).
“This is not only a first in the history of aviation, it’s above all a first in the history of energy. I’m sure that within 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes transporting 50 passengers on short to medium haul flights,” Piccard said.
July 29, 2016