The world’s largest solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 has left the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on the last leg of its round-the-world tour, the BBC reported on Sunday.
According to officials, the aircraft should take about 48 hours to reach Abu Dhabi – the place it began the circumnavigation in March 2015. Watch Live
“We thought it was going to be an easy flight because it’s always good weather between Egypt and Abu Dhabi across Saudi. But actually, it’s extremely difficult to find a good strategy,” Bertrand Piccard told BBC News before take off late Saturday night.
Piccard added that the warmer, thinner air above the Saudi desert also means Solar Impulse’s motors will have to work harder to propel the vehicle forward.
This will require careful management of the energy reserves in the plane’s lithium polymer batteries, to be sure they can sustain the aircraft through the night hours, BBC quoted the pilot as saying.
The Solar Impulse has covered some 30,000 km in its quest to become the first plane to circle the world using no fuel, just the energy from the Sun.
The Cairo-Abu Dhabi flight marks the 17th and final segment in the journey, which has included crossings of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The plane’s landing in Cairo last week was significant for Piccard because the initial idea of flying with zero fuel had occurred to him here 17 years ago when he landed Breitling Orbiter 3 – the first balloon to make a non-stop, round-the-world flight.
“We arrived there with so little fuel left – you know, the propane gas you have to burn in your envelope to stay airborne. I landed there with less than 1% of our reserves, and I was really scared to fall short of gas before the end. And that’s when I said I want to fly around the world again but with no fuel,” Piccard had recalled.
Piccard has alternated pilot duties with his friend and business partner Andre Borschberg.
With inputs from Agencies and IANS