Solar powered plane to fly around the world


first_imgThe first ever attempt to fly a solar powered plane around the globe has begun in Abu Dhabu.The plane is propelled only by the sun and this historic task has been undertaken by two Swiss pilots who hope to complete the journey in the next 5 months.The plane will skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the process.The Swiss Pilot Andr Borschberg and his co-pilot Bertrand Piccard will take turns piloting the single seater Solar Implulse 2 for 21,747 miles over 12 legs, including  five- to six-day stints across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.Borschberg took the controls for the takeoff at Al-Bateen executive airport in Abu Dhabi early on Monday. Its first destination is Muscat in Oman.The pilots will endure roughly 250 hours each inside a narrow cockpit with no oxygen or temperature control. Temperatures outside will range between -40C to 40C.For the pilots, the entire journey will resemble circumnavigating the Earth in a family car. The aircraft weighs the same as a Volvo sedan and goes at comparable speeds. SI2’s top speed is 87m/h (140km/h) but the pilots will conserve battery power by limiting the plane to roughly half that.The cockpit is only slightly larger than an average car and must contain the life support systems, food, oxygen supplies and the reclining pilot’s seat that triples as bed, chair and toilet.The plane will fly both day and night, carrying no fuel, powered by 17,000 solar panels set on its wings (which are wider than a Boeing 747’s) and fuselage. A 633kg bank of lithium batteries, around a quarter of the entire weight, will store the energy to run the motors overnight.The stop-start journey harks back to the early days of intercontinental flight before enormous speeds and ranges were made achievable by jet engines. Qantas used to fly the Kangaroo Route from Sydney to London, hopping through Darwin, Singapore, Kolkata, Karachi, Cairo, and Tripoli en route. The Solar plane than will fly around the world only on solar energylast_img

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