Solar Impulse 2 touched down in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday finishing the first round-the-world flight by an aeroplane powered by solar energy, reported The Guardian. Bertrand Piccard, who undertook the 16-month journey, alternated the 16-leg flight time with former Swiss Air Force fighter pilot André Borschberg.
Speaking after landing, Piccard said, “It is a very, very special moment – it has been 15 years since I have been working on this goal. I hope people will understand that it is not just a first in the history of aviation, but also a first in the history of energy."
The plane has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 747, and has more than 17,000 solar cells fitted on its wings. It has a single seat for the pilot that also doubles up as a toilet. During the journey, it crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans without any fossil fuel. It has also managed to stay in the air for 23 days at a stretch.
The longest route of 4,000 miles between Japan to Hawaii over the Pacific Ocean was flown by Borschberg. “All the clean technologies we use, they can be used everywhere. So we have flown 40,000km, but now it is up to other people to take it further," Piccard said, adding that the new technology is not only good for the environment, but it is also cost effective and will create several jobs.
Piccard said he did not have a flying licence when he first came up with the idea. "When I initiated the project, I had no aeroplane licence so I had to work for it over six years. I did hundreds of hours to be allowed to fly a prototype aeroplane,” he told the English daily.