By Staff writer
Solar-powered aircraft is scheduled to take off from UAE capital on first round-the-world flight in March
Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered aircraft, completed its first test flights in Abu Dhabi on Thursday ahead of its round-the-world journey.
With Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg taking turns in the cockpit, the single-seater aircraft will attempt the flight around the world beginning in March from the UAE capital.
Si2, the first airplane able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, successfully completed its maiden flight in the UAE capital, a statement said.
For four hours, test pilot Markus Scherdel took to the UAE skies, followed by Borschberg who completed a full day test flight.
The initial results are in line with calculations and simulations, the statement said. Several more test flights are scheduled for the coming week, it added.
Borschberg said: "These first test flights in Abu Dhabi are an important stage - a step closer towards the impending round-the-world solar flight attempt. I am elated to report that the plane's performance is on par with our initial simulations."
Piccard added: "The results indicate that our team of engineers can be very proud of their successful reassembly of the aircraft and their efforts since the vision's inception 12 years ago. We're one step closer to our round-the-world attempt and one step closer to inspiring people across the world to be pioneers in their own lives."
Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, director of sustainability for Masdar, said: "Today, Solar Impulse 2's first test flights in Abu Dhabi mark a major milestone in the plane's preparation for its historic attempt to fly around the world."
Solar Impulse will fly day and night and will land in 12 locations across the world including Muscat in Oman.
It will travel 35,000 kilometres in the first attempt to fly around the globe without using a drop of fuel.
The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman, Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India, Mandalay, Myanmar and Chongqing and Nanjing, China.
After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Si2 will fly across the US stopping in Phoenix and New York City at JFK. A third stop-over location in the Midwest will be decided dependent on weather conditions.
After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi.
The first round-the-world solar adventure will take approximately 25 flight days, spread over five months, at speeds of between 50 and 100kmh.