Attempting the First Round-The-World Solar Flight to inspire innovation and encourage the use of clean technologies, the solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will try for the first time in history an oceanic flight that will last at least 5 days and 5 nights non-stop.
Permanent transmissions from the airplane and the Mission Control Center will allow the public and media to follow this adventure in real time by visiting www.solarimpulse.com
Nanjing (China), May 31, 2015 – Swiss Pilot André Borschberg took off in the single seater aircraft this morning from Nanjing Lukou Airport at 2:39 am local time China (06:39 pm UTC) on May 31 2015 in the People’s Republic of China, bound for Hawaii, USA in what will be the exploration leg of the Round-the-World Solar Flight.
This is the longest leg of Solar Impulse’s around the world journey. In what could be potentially difficult flight and weather conditions, reaching Hawaii will take an expected six days and 5 nights (around 130 hours), covering approximately 8,172 km (5,078 mi). If successful, this will be an historic milestone in aviation, the longest flight for a single pilot airplane in duration, ever flown with any type of airplane.
As the entire world watches, André will venture into the unknown and demonstrate his courage by adapting to extreme circumstances. He will face conditions ranging from living in a small, 3.8m3 cockpit; maintaining his confidence that the energy collected from the sun throughout the day will last through the night; remaining physically and mentally alert throughout the entire journey; and preparing to operate the plane and interact with the support team at the Mission Control Center in Monaco who are constantly monitoring Solar Impulse and analyzing its route.
With André’s flight to Hawaii, the goal is to prove that the impossible is achievable. This first leg of the Pacific crossing will validate years of technological, operational and pilot training strategies. Does Solar Impulse 2 have the capability to make this first ocean crossing and then succeed with the rest of the round-the-world journey? Will the Pilot’s endurance training suffice to enable him to withstand the complexities and challenges of a long non-stop flight? And are the weather and operational choices for an experimental airplane, which is as wide as a jumbo jet and as lights as a car, hence sensitive to turbulences, the right ones?
During this highly challenging leg to Hawaii, André will draw on Bertrand’s experience as an explorer acquired during his long duration world record balloon flights whereby he crossed the world’s oceans and circumnavigated the globe.
"This is the moment of truth. If successful, this flight to Hawaii will demonstrate the credibility of the vision Bertrand had 16 years ago of an airplane flying for days without fuel to change our mindset regarding the enormous potential of clean technologies and renewable energies" André Borschberg, Solar Impulse Co-founder and CEO.
“This is the exploration leg of the flight around the world. It will be an important milestone for aviation with an airplane capable for the first time ever to fly with unlimited endurance. This represents an extraordinary illustration of technological innovation which André initiated and led during the last 12 years”. Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse Initiator, Chairman and Pilot.
If this flight is successful, Bertrand will then fall back on André’s experience in order to fly the next leg from Hawaii to Phoenix. Arriving on the US continent will be yet a further illustration of Solar Impulse’s overall objective, illustrating how clean technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency can achieve the impossible.
Solar Impulse’s attempt at this aviation first is the result of the alliance and close partnership between two visionary pioneers who dreamed of a project that would showcase the potential of a clean energy future – an airplane capable of flying day and night with unlimited endurance considered unattainable by industry experts.
The synergy between André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard is a key success factor for the project as well as a touching human story between two men with a drive to succeed in improving the state of the world and inspiring future generations.