From the Wright brothers to Amelia Earhart, the history of aviation is rich in pioneers who dared to dream and push boundaries. Earlier this week two more innovators – Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg – set off from Abu Dhabi on a journey that could change the way we think about flying forever.
Their aim? To fly around the world aboard Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), a single-seater plane whose only source of power is from the sun.
Made out of carbon fiber, the Si2 has a 72 meter wing span and weighs just over two tons. A staggering 17,000 solar cells cover its wings, supplying four electric motors.
During sunlight hours, the plane’s solar cells recharge 633 kilogram lithium batteries which, according to the Solar Impulse website, “allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.”
“Solar impulse is using only the sun as a source of energy,” CEO, co-founder and pilot Borschberg told CNBC’s Sustainable Energy. “We can fly day and night, in fact we can fly a week, we can fly months, non-stop… [it’s] the first time we have an aeroplane which has unlimited endurance.”