A solar-powered plane will fly internationally for the first time this month.
The Swiss team Solar Impulse has been conducting test flights in the Payerne Switzerland area in preparation for the flight for the last few weeks.
The team’s first international destination: Brussels.
After landing in Brussels, the plane will be on display from May 23-29. Then, the team will take flight for Paris where it will be a Special Guest at the 49th Paris Air Show.
In preparation, the team has been testing the satellite communication systems, which were developed by Swisscom, as well as the air traffic integration procedures.
The plane: HB-SIA
Solar Impulse has engineered a plane, the HB-SIA, that is the first designed to sustain flight through day and night without requiring fuel and which is also completely carbon emissions free.
The plane as 12,000 solar cells that have been integrated into the wings, and the energy they generate powers four electric motors that have a maximum power of 10CV each.
Solar cells charge the aircraft’s 400 kilogram lithium polymer batteries during the day, which allows for the aircraft to fly at night.
The wingspan is as wide as an Airbus A340 (63.4 meters) and, according to Solar Impulse, is equivalent to that of an average family car; it is the largest airplane of its weight to have been built.
The plane’s design has been going on for the past seven years, with tests and calculations that have been conducted by a team of 70 to 80 partners. The principal partners are Solvay, Omega, Deutsche Bank and Schindler.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg founded Solar Impulse and both pioneer the projects and pilot the planes.
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Piccard is the chairman who initiated the project. He is a psychiatrist and aeronaut; he is also the first person to have flown non-stop around the world on a balloon flight.
Borschberg, an engineer and graduate in management science, as well as a fighter pilot and professional airplane and helicopter pilot, is the CEO.
The European Commission has sponsored the Solar Impulse team since 2008.
The team made its first flight through an entire day and night last year, flying the unique solar-powered plane for more than 26 hours straight.
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