Solar energy is a viable supplement to fossil fuels & is becoming a reality with latest research and development in this field. The recent Solar Impulse-2’s Flight across Atlantic without a single drop of fuel is a perfect example of these current innovations in the field of solar energy. The Plane in its 15th leg on the mission of circumnavigating the Globe only using the solar source of energy.
Solar Impulse-2 started the journey of its current leg from JFK Airport, New York to reach Seville, Spain after crossing the Atlantic covering 6765 KM in just about little less than three days that is 71 hours and eight minutes to be precise.
Solar Impulse-2 is heading back to Abu Dhabi from where it has started its adventurous and arduous Journey by its team of two Pilots who take up these Flights one by one. This was the longest Flight of Bertrand Piccard, Pilot of the current leg of Solar Impulse-2.
The record for solo flight of this plane is still held by Andre Borschberg who flew the plane from Nagoya to Hawaii leg covering 8924 KM in 117 Hours and 52 minutes in July 2015. Such a long time taken by these flights for covering these distances because this Solar Impulse-2 is completely dependent on solar energy.
The plane’s broad and large 72m wings have some 267.5 square meters of photovoltaic cells which powered its motors during daytime and it runs at 90kmph average speed but during the evening kWh lithium-ion batteries helped its motors to run at an average speed of 60kmph.
The solar cells don’t recharge their batteries during the day-time which makes it impossible for the plane to run forever, it can fly for only five to six days maximum, while on the run at a stretch and then it needs to be grounded. Only one pilot needs to be in the cockpit at a time to save and conserve energy, that is the primary reason these two pilots are flying the plane one by one in different legs.
Piccard spoke about this special cross atlantic journey at length and told to ‘Guardian’ that, “The Atlantic is the symbolic part of the flight,” he said. “It is symbolic because all the means of transportation have always tried to cross the Atlantic, the first steamboats, the first aeroplane, the first balloons, the first airships and, today, it is the first solar-powered aeroplane.
“But the goal is not to change aviation, as Charles Lindbergh did, but to inspire people to use [renewable] technologies and show people they can use these technologies every day to have a better quality of life.”
Solar Impulse-2 now, in theory, only has one flight left to complete its circumnavigation of the globe: from Seville to Abu Dhabi. We don’t know when the flight will be (it depends on weather conditions and the state of the aircraft), but we’ll certainly bring you some updates when it happens.