A team

At the beginning of 2012, the Solar Impulse team was about 90 strong, including 30 engineers, 25 technicians and 22 mission controllers, supported financially and technologically by over a hundred partners and advisers. And yet the team could have been limited to just twenty people.

 

To achieve that, an aircraft manufacturer would have had to accept being a sub-contractor responsible for building the solar airplane after completion of the feasibility study. But none of them believed it to be possible, so it was necessary in record time to create a production unit and assemble a technical team. The two founders shared the work-load, with André taking responsibility for the team and the construction work, whilst Bertrand travelled the world promoting the project and searching for partners.

Swiss Pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg Accomplished the Second Stop Over in China Before Embarking on the Historic Pacific Crossing

 Nanjing (China), April 21, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 (“Si2”), the world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane and the first to fly day and night without fuel, landed successfully in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, following a 20 day stay in Chongqing. With Bertrand Piccard at ...

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 Nanjing (China), April 21, 2015 – Solar Impulse 2 (“Si2”), the world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane and the first to fly day and night without fuel, landed successfully in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, following a 20 day stay in Chongqing. With Bertrand Piccard at the controls, the solar airplane concluded the sixth leg of the historic trip around the world this evening at 11:28 pm local time China (3:28 pm GMT). 

My job as a pilot was relatively easy. The preparatory measures however proved challenging for our team of weather specialists and engineers from Si’s Partner Altran at the Monaco Control Center. We simulated all possible trajectories and exhausted all different strategies to get Solar Impulse 2 in the air; from defining pit-stops at airports along the route, to different speeds, altitudes and holding patterns. Throughout the entire process, the Chinese authorities have been unfailingly helpful and open to our ideas. We are amazed by the spirit of our team and the willingness of our partners to help us achieve our goal: The first Round-The-World flight without fuel” said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman. 

 This journey was also essential from a technical perspective as it was used to verify and fine-tune final elements in the preparation of the Pacific Ocean crossing scheduled for early May, pending favorable weather conditions. This last leg is bringing Solar Impulse one step closer to an aviation first – the next part of the circumnavigation will require flying five consecutive days and nights in a solar-powered aircraft to cross the Pacific, a feat that has never been accomplished before. 

 Commenting on the arrival in Nanjing André Borschberg said: 

 “Nanjing represents a turning point in the entire mission; this is where everything comes together for us as pilots after initiating the project 12 years ago. This is the moment of truth where all the technical and human challenges will have to be overcome. We now have less than a month to mentally and physically prepare for what will be Solar Impulse’s longest flight to date: a five day and five night journey across the Pacific Ocean from Nanjing to Hawaii.” 


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