The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 touched down at the Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi shortly after 4 am (UAE time) on Tuesday, successfully completing its around-the-world trip flight without using fossil fuel. A first in solar-powered flights.
Co-pilot for the plane Bertrand Piccard had taken off from Cairo, Egypt on 24 July for the last leg of the total of 40, 000 kilometer journey. The flight from Cario to Abu Dhabi was completed in 48 hour and 37 minutes. The journey that began in March 2015 is a milestone feat in proving the power of clean technologies.
“The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let’s take it further, Piccard said, after landing in Abu Dhabi to cheers and applause.
Piccard, who was greeted at the steps of the plane by Borschberg, said that the solar plane’s round-the-world journey is “not an achievement in the history of aviation but in the history of energy.”
“We have traveled 40,000 km without fuel,” said the pilot, before emphasising that he can not accept a “polluted world”.
Amidst the sound of bagpipes from the Abu Dhabi orchestra receiving Solar Impulse 2, Borschberg told the press that the last stage from Cario to Abu Dhabi was challenging because of having to fly in high temperatures, which forced the team to “reset the airplane equipment” due to lower air density.
This is a very special moment for us, we have completed this journey step by step and we are very excited with the arrival in Abu Dhabi,” second pilot Andre Borschberg told EFE news at the airport.
“I feel fulfilled,” confessed Borschberg, before highlighting that among the 17 stages, crossing over the Pacific Ocean was “the biggest challenge” of the round-the-world trip, because it was “the longest period flying”.
“Emotions, tears, relief, exhilaration is what we are all feeling right now after completing the first Round-the-World solar flight in history,” read a statement on Solar Impulse 2 website.
The 17-stage journey covered 40,000km, taking in four continents, three seas and two oceans.
The longest leg, an 8,924km (5,545-mile) flight from Nagoya in Japan to Hawaii, US, lasted nearly 118 hours and saw Mr Borschberg break the absolute world record for longest (time duration) uninterrupted solo flight.
Swiss explorers Bertrand Mr Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been working on the Solar Impulse project for more than a decade.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who was in conversation with the pilots during the flight conveyed this message on Facebook live: “You may be ending your journey, but the journey to a sustainable world is just beginning. You are helping to pilot us to that future.”
— United Nations (@UN) July 25, 2016
(With inputs from IANS)