Solar-Powered Plane Takes its First Ever International Flight

Travel News — By Candice Walsh on June 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

How’s this for awesome technology? A solar-powered airplane just took its first international flight from the Payerne airfield in Switzerland to Brussels, Belgium, and with great success!

It’s the Solar Impulse HB-SIA single-seater prototype, but it’s a big deal in the airline industry. It has already completed a 26-hour non-stop flight, proving the plane can stay in the air even when it’s dark, all thanks to the energy acquired during the day with its 12,000 solar cells.

Image: fdecomite/Flickr

With a wingspan of a Boeing 777, its team is led by pilot Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. Its maiden flight was in 2009, but its proposed round-the-world date isn’t until 2012.

Those interested can follow along with the Solar Impulse’s development on the official website, where details of the international flight were recently documented by Borschberg and Piccard themselves. The whole flight lasted 12 hours and 59 minutes, using no fuel. How epic is that? A team of supporters and air travel enthusiasts were there to greet the plane as it safely touched down, marking a pretty significant technological feat.

Borschberg said:

It’s unbelievably exciting to land here in Brussels, at the heart of Europe, after flying across France and Luxemburg. And to fly without fuel, noise or pollution, making practically no negative impact, is a great source of satisfaction.

Ditto! We’re excited to watch the development of the project, and we hope solar air travel becomes possible for us regular folks sometime soon!


Tags: solar airplane, solar energy travel, solar impulse

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