We built an aircraft powered only by solar energy, capable of flying day and night several days in a row, above the oceans and around the world. › Discover the Technical Challenges
How will the pilot live, alone in the air several days in a row, in a 3,8m3 unpressurized cockpit, facing fatigue and stressful conditions? › Learn about the Human Challenges
• The route: From the deserts of the Persian Gulf, dodging the unrelenting Indian monsoon, flying over the Burmese temples and the great wall of China, followed by two oceans crossings (with an American “dream” break in between), all to come back around to where it all began in the Persian Gulf.
• The Airplane: Solar Impulse 2, the Round-The-World Solar Airplane, has been developed to meet the #RTW challenges. Larger in wingspan than a Jumbo Jet, but as light as a SUV, this solar airplane presents structural and aerodynamic features never before encountered.
• The Pilots: one after the other, Bertrand and André will take place alone in the cockpit for the #RTW legs.
Building and flying a solar airplane around the world is something many consider impossible. Discover the 3 main challenges our pilots and team will face:
1. To build an aircraft capable of flying day and night powered only by solar energy: it required the optimization of new technologies and a drastic reduction in weight and energy consumption. The whole team had to push back the frontiers of knowledge in materials science, energy management and the human-machine interface.
2. Flying a solar airplane over more than 5 days and 5 nights across the oceans, alone in a 3.8m3 cockpit at the same altitude as a commercial airplane with no pressurized cabin… this is what Bertrand and André will have to achieve one after the other in order to succeed.
3. Operating such an extra-ordinary aircraft around the world has never been done before. Completely new solutions had to be found.
We don’t know whether to laugh or cry… We’ve just fallen short on our direct China-Hawaii flight, this flight of 6 days and 6 nights that André had so been looking forward to. The weather forecasts suddenly turned bad and got the better of our ambitions, forcing us to divert Solar Impulse ...
We don’t know whether to laugh or cry… We’ve just fallen short on our direct China-Hawaii flight, this flight of 6 days and 6 nights that André had so been looking forward to. The weather forecasts suddenly turned bad and got the better of our ambitions, forcing us to divert Solar Impulse 2 to Nagoya, Japan. There was a diplomatic ballet worthy of a thriller to obtain authorizations to land and inflate our mobile hangar, where, 36 hours earlier, we had struggled to get permission just to over-fly. All this almost makes us forget that Si2 beat the solar aviation distance and duration records, flying 2,600 km in 44 hours. And what is more - a great deal more - that it was airborne for two days and nights without any fuel! This shows that the perpetual flight I dreamed about when initiating this project 16 years ago is possible. It’s a validation not only of a vision, but also of all the hard work done by the technical team under André’s direction. So, in a way, this should be the happiest day of our lives, or in any event the most important. Until the next stages of our world tour ... coming soon, I hope.
You can find this story on carandache.com