Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Swiss co-founders and pilots of Solar Impulse, along with their Partners, revealed the detailed global flight route of Solar Impulse 2 (Si2). The first solar-powered plane able to fly day and night will land in 12 locations across the world and travel 35,000 kilometres in the first attempt to fly around the globe without using a drop of fuel. For pilots Piccard and Borschberg, the drive behind their mission is to demonstrate how clean technologies and a pioneering spirit can change the world.
Si2 will take-off from Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirate, in late February or early March and return by late July or early August 2015. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Si2 will fly across the Continental U.S.A. stopping in three locations – Phoenix, and New York City at JFK. A location in the Midwest will be decided dependent on weather conditions. After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop-over in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi.
Solar Impulse unveiled the flight path in Abu Dhabi alongside partner representatives. This included main partners Solvay, Omega, Schindler and ABB. They were also joined by official partners Altran, Bayer, Google, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Swisscom alongside Solar Impulse’s host partner Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.
The first round-the-world solar adventure will span approximately 25 flight days, spread over 5 months and covering approximately 35,000 kilometres at speeds between 50 and 100 kmh.
“Masdar and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi are proud to host the departure, and hopefully safe arrival, of Solar Impulse and its pilots, as they dare to fly round the world using only the power of the sun,” said H.E Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar. “Solar Impulse is a demonstration to prove the impossible can be possible, and that innovation knows no boundaries. As a leader delivering sophisticated renewable energy projects around the world, Masdar is a natural partner for such an innovative endeavour, which underscores the viability of solar technology,” he added.
Ahead of the 5 month adventure, the Si2 team and pilots will spread their message in Abu Dhabi, engaging with industry representatives, youth and aspiring engineering students.
“With our attempt to complete the first solar powered round-the-world flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible. We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish here on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet’s natural resources,” declared Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse.
After 12 years of feasibility studies, design and construction, the Solar Impulse team is ready to launch its round-the-world solar mission. With the help of 80 technology partners, the Solar Impulse engineers and technicians have found highly innovative solutions to make this vision, deemed impossible, a reality. The single-seater plane’s energy efficiency is greater than any aircraft to date.
“Solar Impulse is not the first solar airplane, however it is the first able to cross oceans and continents -remaining in the air for several days and nights in a row without landing,” said André Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO. “But now we have to ensure the sustainability of the pilot in order to complete the route; Solar Impulse 2 must accomplish what no other plane in the history of aviation has achieved – flying without fuel for 5 consecutive days and nights with only one pilot in the unpressurized cockpit,” he added.
Solar Impulse 2 and its crew of 80 technicians, engineers and a communications team arrived in Abu Dhabi on January 6, 2015. During the remainder of the plane’s stay in the emirate, the team will conduct safety tests, test flights, and training to prepare for the mission ahead.
“Abu Dhabi is the ideal location for us to start and end our mission. Initiatives like Masdar have enabled the capital of the United Arab Emirates to be recognized as a global centre of innovation and clean technology,” said Bertrand Piccard. “Masdar and Abu Dhabi are setting an example for the entire world, promoting the use of diverse, sustainable and clean energy sources by deploying some of the globe’s most sophisticated renewable energy projects. Most importantly, Masdar shares our unwavering commitment to ensuring a cleaner future for our planet,” he added.
During stopovers, the Solar Impulse team will organize meetings, airplane visits and Google Hangouts in order to promote the mission’s message and highlight innovative technical solutions to climate change. In doing so, Solar Impulse hopes to foster an interest in clean energy amongst youth, industry professionals and government representatives seeking to implement ambitious energy policies.