I want write on something different of my usual SM topics because I want highlight the important attempt of circumnavigate the globe using an aircraft fuelled by renewal energy. Solar Impulse 2 is an aircraft which uses solar power to accomplish this mission.
It carries 2 pilots and the wingspan is slightly less than an Airbus A380 (world largest airplane for civilian use) and its weight is 2,3 ton (like a standard vehicle). The airplane flies day and night and its cruise speed is 49 kn (90 km/h) and 33 kn (60 km/h) at night to save power. The journey started in Abu Dhabi on 9th of March 2015 and it should conclude also there in few months (check news on http://www.solarimpulse.com/adventure).
“Solar Impulse”, the company behind this project, has a fascinating mission because it has the scope to proof the possibility to use solar power for transportation and, even if the aircraft had few breakdowns during its journey, the plan is still valid and on track.
The two pilots and company co-founders are Andre Borschberg, who is a Swiss business man and pilot and he earned 8 FAI World Records. The second pilot is Bertrand Piccard, who is a Swiss psychiatrist and balloonist. He comes from a family of explorers because the grandfather A. Piccard was a balloonist and the father J. Piccard was an undersea explorer. Bertrand completed a non-stop balloon flight around the world and now he wants complete the first round the world on a solar power aircraft.
The project has the scope to promote the use of renewable technologies and energy efficiency for a better quality of life. I believe that in few years from now, people will travel using sustainable transportation systems but for now this is still a challenge. Indeed, as Piccard said in an interview: “Maybe it will be boring in 20 years when all the airplanes will be electric and people will say ‘Oh it’s routine.’ But now, today, an airplane that is electric, with electric engines, that produces its own energy with the sun, it can never be boring”.