Solar Impulse completes world tour Solar Impulse completes world tour
13 Hours Ago|02:32
The pilots of the Solar Impulse 2 have described their year-long attempt to fly around the world powered solely by the sun as the “definition of adventure.”
Speaking to CNBC shortly after landing in Abu Dhabi Tuesday, pilot and chairman Bertrand Piccard said the round-the-world trip had “some elating moments but also difficult moments, setbacks even, and this is the definition of adventure.”
Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi more than a year after its initial take off, marking the end of an epic 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometer) journey. The plane made 16 stops, including in India, China, the U.S., Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — where it first took off.
The Swiss-engineered single-seater aircraft is powered by 17,248 solar cells and runs on battery power at night. Its average airspeed was 46 mph, though that increased during the day when the sun’s rays were strongest.
It took 70 hours for the plane to cross the Atlantic and 118 hours across the Pacific.
On Sunday, Piccard took off from Cairo in Egypt to complete the last leg of the journey, landing 48 hours and 37 minutes later in Abu Dhabi at 2:05 a.m. CEST on Tuesday.
“It really shows that you can do incredible things with clean technologies, renewable energies, like flying day and night on solar power with an airplane (with) unlimited endurance because you don’t need to refuel,” Piccard told CNBC.
The trip has not been without its hiccups. Last year, the plane suffered “irreversible damage to overheated batteries” after a record breaking flight between Nagoya and Hawaii that lasted more than four days. It had to be grounded for several months while repairs took place.