Published on May 20th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan8
Solar Plane — Solar Impulse — Completes 1st International Flight
May 20th, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
We’ve covered the birth and growth of this completely solar-powered plane from Switzerland, the Solar Impulse, here on CleanTechnica. The most recent news is that the plane had made its first international flight. “After a flight lasting 12 hours 59 minutes, using no fuel and propelled by solar energy alone, Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels” last Friday evening, the plane’s website announced.
“It’s unbelievably exciting to land here in Brussels, at the heart of Europe, after flying across France and Luxemburg. And to fly without fuel, noise or pollution, making practically no negative impact, is a great source of satisfaction,” exclaimed André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the project, as he stepped out of the cockpit in Brussels.
Borschberg left from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland in the morning and navigated his way to the final destination using a satellite communication system that was developed by Solar Impulse’s “National Telecom Partner,” Swisscom. Additionally, Flight Director Raymond Clerc and his team supported the pilot throughout the flight from the “Mission Control Center” in Payerne.
“It’s a spectacular flight. The take off was a little challenging because we had to rush due to air traffic activity consequently I needed a little bit of time to get everything in order before I could become serein. It was little bit north east wind during take off however this was not a major problem,” Borschberg said.
Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Company, was predictably very enthusiastic that the airplane’s first international flight was to Brussels Airport. He stated:
This airplane, the first to function without fossil fuel and without emitting CO2, symbolizes the great efforts the aeronautical industry is making to develop new technologies for energy saving and increased use of renewable energies. The European airport sector is also very active in developing its activities in a responsible and durable manner. Given Brussels Airport’s own ambition to continue reducing our CO2 emissions, we attach particular importance to solar energy generation projects. Therefore, we are delighted that Solar Impulse selected Brussels Airport as its first international destination.
While not a huge trip, makes me think of the very short trips initial planes made about a century ago. Reminds me of reading about the first commercial flight to Tampa Bay, Florida, which was from St. Petersburg to Tampa in 1914. For those of you not familiar with the region, Tampa Bay and St. Pete (as we Floridians generally call it) are almost merged and it takes about 10 minutes to get from one to the other by car. Flying from St. Pete to Tampa seems ridiculous, and flying 13 hours from Switzerland to Brussels may sound ridiculous as well, but you have to start somewhere — I hope solar-powered planes will mature to be as spectacular as typical planes have become today, or even more spectacular.
Source: Solar Impulse
Images Credits: Solar Impulse/Jean Chessex & Solar Impulse/Jean Revillard & Solar Impulse/Stéphane Gros
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