Zero-Fuel Plane Finishes Trip Around the World

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( — July 26, 2016) —The solar powered plane landed Tuesday morning at Al Bateen Executive Airport, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, where on March 9th 2015, Solar Impulse 2 started the around the world adventure, with the goal of flying 26,000 miles without a drop of fuel.

Solar Impulse 2 was piloted by two Swiss pilots, Bertrand Piccard, 58, and Andre Borschberg, 63. Taking turns flying the plane for a journey that took a little more than a year and four months. Their mission was to promote renewable energy.

Bertrand Piccard piloted the plane one last time, steering it safely from the Egyptian capital Cairo to the UAE.

The 17-stage epic journey covered around 26,000 miles, four continents, three seas and two oceans. Upon their arrival in Abu Dhabi, Bertrand Piccard said that ”the future is clean, the future is you, the future is now, let’s take it further.”

After the departure from Abu Dhabi last year, Solar Impulse 2 landed in Oman, India, China, Japan, and Hawaii, where the plane was unexpectedly delayed for several months due to technical issues. After that, the plane flew over North America, the Atlantic, landed in Seville and on July 13th, made it to Cairo, Egypt.

Solar Impulse 2 is no heavier than a car, weighing 3,000 pounds, but it is as large as a Boeing 747 airplane. It flew at an average speed of 50 miles per hour, thanks to batteries that store solar energy with the help of 17,000 solar cells in the wings. The plane also has four propellers, 158 inches long.

The plane has an experimental design. The cockpit is about the size of a public phone box, only 40 square feet, no air conditioning or heating, but has a toilet. The cabin is lined with insulation foam to mitigate extreme temperatures, from minus 100 to plus 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pilots had to wear oxygen masks to breathe at high altitudes, and were permitted to only sleep for 20 minutes at a time.