Bern: The world's
largest solar-powered plane, Swiss-made Solar Impulse, will take
its first-ever cross-continent flight in May or June.
The plane, co-piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg,
will attempt for the first time to fly more than 2,500 km, taking
off in Payerne in western Switzerland, crossing the Pyrenees and
the Mediterranean without using fuel, and landing in Morocco.
The exact date for taking off will be decided according to weather
condition, said Andre Borschberg, co-founder and CEO of Solar
Impulse that made the aircraft.
Bertrand Piccard and Borschberg will take turns to fly the
aircraft on its 48-hour journey, with a scheduled stopover near
Madrid to change pilots, Xinhua reported.
This long-duration flight will serve as a dress rehearsal for the
round-the-world flight in 2014, and will allow the team to gather
experience in cooperating with international airports, integrating
the prototype into regular air traffic patterns, and managing the
logistics of maintenance, said Borschberg.
Solar Impulse, the first aircraft that can fly day and night
without fuel or polluting emissions, has a wingspan of 63.4
meters, as wide as an Airbus A340, and weighs only 1,600 kg. It
has 12,000 solar cells mounted on the wings, which provide
momentum for its four electric motors.
The plane took its first international flight from Switzerland to
Brussels May 13, 2011, and marked its second international flight
to Paris in June last year.