First solar plane lands this weekend

First solar plane lands this weekend

Solar Impulse—the world’s only solar-powered aircraft—is set to arrive in India by this weekend.

It will be the second stop of the aircraft's maiden effort to circumnavigate the globe.
Though the Swiss aircraft was to arrive before Holi, the touchdown was postponed by a few days as sandstorms in the Gulf have delayed the trial run.

As of Sunday, the probable date for the aircraft's touchdown at Ahmedabad airport is March 7-8, sources told Deccan Herald.

The single-seater will take off from Abu Dhabi and stop at Muscat, Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Myanmar, and Chongqing and Nanjing in China.
Then, it will cross the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and fly across the US, stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest and New York.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft's final legs will include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before it completes the round-the-world flight at its final destination: Abu Dhabi.Solar Impulse will stop only for a night halt in Varanasi.
 However, before leaving the holy city, Swiss adventure pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will undertake fly the aircraft over the Ganga, which they said would be one of the iconic images of a 12,000-km flight. Piccard and Borschberg will fly the plane by turn.

Crossing the Pacific will take five days and nights, and the solar-powered aircraft will take 120 hours to cross the Atlantic.

The plane’s high-performance solar panels—fitted atop the wings—generate energy that is stored in a high-performance battery for nocturnal flights.

The first prototype of Solar Impulse flew in 2009, but the plane demonstrated its ability in 2010 a 26-hour flight that included nine hours of nocturnal flight. The engineers working on the plane improved the first prototype for its around-the-world trip.

Made of carbon fibre, the aircraft has a 72-metre wingspan, which is larger than that of a Boeing 747, and weighs just 2,300 kg—as much as a car.

The 17,248 solar cells built into its wing supply four electric motors with renewable energy. The cells recharge four lithium batteries weighing 633 kg each, which allow the aircraft to fly at night. The plane's control centre is in Monaco.

Its arrival in Ahmedabad will be marked by a series of events and public interactions, as several Indian companies from the renewable energy sector are associated with this project.

Some of the components used in this pioneering aircraft are also made in India.
DH News Service

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