Plane that runs on solar power finishes first leg of global flight

March 12, 2015 0 By Amanda Giasson
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Solar Impluse-2 took off from Abu Dhabi on Monday and safely landed in Oman.

Solar Impulse-2 intends to be the first plane to fly around the globe fueled entirely by solar power and, so far, it has successfully completed the first leg of its journey, with Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg at its controls, taking off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates early Monday and safely landing in Muscat in Oman, 12 hours later.

During the next five months it will cross both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, flying from continent to content.

Prior to taking off, Borschberg told BBC News that he was confident in the plane and in the journey, saying that “we have a very special aeroplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans.” Borschberg will eventually share pilot duties of the one-seater plane with Betrand Piccard, a fellow Swiss pilot.

Borschberg said that “”We may have to fly for five days and five nights to do that, and it will be a challenge,” but added that they have the next two months to train and prepare themselves, at which time they will be flying the legs to China.

Throughout the journey, the pilots intend to stop off at a variety of locations around the world, not only to rest and to maintenance the solar energy aircraft, but also to spread a campaigning message about the need for clean technologies for a clean future.

By 2050, solar power has been predicted to become the leading source of electricity in the world.

Based on the present cost of fossil fuel, the Deutsche Bank has forecasted that before 2020, solar will generate energy as inexpensively as gas in two thirds of the world. This may very well be the case considering that, in recent years, the price of solar panels dropped 70 percent and the price is expected to reduce by half again this decade.

As for the Solar Impulse project, it has already set many world records and will likely set more before its journey around the globe ends. The plane is equipped with 17,000 solar power cells, as well as energy-dense lithium-ion batteries to aid when flying at night. It has an extremely light weight design, weighing only 2.3 tons, in spite of having a wingspan wider than a 747 jumbo jet, at 72 meters (236 feet).