The first attempt to fly around the world in a plane using solar energy will be launched tomorrow in Abu Dhabi, its pilots said, in a landmark journey aimed at promoting green energy.
The takeoff of Solar Impulse 2, which was delayed yesterday due to high winds, would cap 13 years of research and testing by Swiss pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard.
“This project is a human project, it is a human challenge,” Borschberg, co-founder and chief executive of Solar Impulse who will fly the plane on the first leg, told reporters today.
The wingspan of the one-seater plane, known as the Si2, is slightly bigger than that of a jumbo jet, but its weight is around that of a family car.
It will take off from Abu Dhabi on Monday at 6:30 am local time, landing first in Muscat, Oman.
From there, it will make 12 stops on an epic journey spread over five months, with a total flight time of around 25 days.
It will cross the Arabian Sea to India before heading on to Myanmar, China, Hawaii and New York.
Landings are also earmarked for the midwestern United States and either southern Europe or North Africa, depending on weather conditions.
The longest single leg will see a lone pilot fly non-stop for five days across the Pacific Ocean between Nanjing, China and Hawaii, a distance of 8,500 kilometres.
Borschberg and Piccard will alternate turns at the controls because the plane can hold only one person.
All this will happen without burning a drop of fuel.
“We want to share our vision of a clean future,” said Piccard, chairman of Solar Impulse.
“Climate change is a fantastic opportunity to bring in the market new green technologies that save energy, save natural resources of our planet, make profit, create jobs, and sustain growth.”
The pilots’ idea was ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled.