A new era of sustainable aeroplanes has begun with the maiden flight of one of the first fully solar-powered aeroplanes. The Solar Impulse 2, flown by German pilot Markus Scherdel, made its first assent from the Payerne Airbase in Switzerland on 2 June 2014. This initial journey marks the first step toward an historic circumnavigation that is set to take place in 2015.
The Solar Impulse 2 is made of carbon fiber and has a wingspan of 72 meters. The aircraft is larger than a Boeing 747. Despite its large size, the craft's weight is equivalent to that of an automobile; this is due, in large part, to the fact that the Solar Impulse 2 does not require fuel. Running entirely on renewable solar energy, the revolutionary craft contains 17,000 solar cells and four electrical motors. The electrical motors are powered by four 21 kilowatt lithium ion batteries. During the day, the solar cells charge the lithium batteries enabling nighttime flight.
For its first flight, German test pilot Markus Schredel flew the plane for over an hour and reached heights of about 1,800 meters. Over the next several months, the Solar Impulse 2 will undergo a series of tests and test flights in order to achieve certification. The goal is for the Solar Impulse 2 to complete a flight around the globe. Such a flight would mark the first time an all solar-powered craft circumnavigates the earth. The proposed flight is slated to take place in 2015. The Solar Impulse 2 will be piloted by Betrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. Piccard and Borschberg also piloted an earlier version of the Solar Impulse 2-the Solar Impulse. With Piccard and Borschberg at the helm, the Solar Impulse set several records for solar-powered flight. The Solar Impulse was the first solar-powered aeroplane to complete an intercontinental flight. Also, the Solar Impulse holds the records for the longest flight (26 hours) and the greatest distance traveled of any manned solar-powered flight. With the larger and more advanced Solar Impulse 2, Piccard and Borschberg hope to shatter their existing records and usher in an exciting new age in flight.
With the success of the Solar Impulse and the Solar Impulse 2, we may not be very far from a world in which our public airlines and private aircraft charter flights are powered exclusively by renewable energy. In addition to the positive environmental implications, solar-powered airline and aircraft charter fleets stand to provide significant savings due to a decrease in fuel costs. Learn more about private jet from this blog.