Solar Impulse 2 made it. On the 3rd of July the experimental solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 landed in the Hawaii, after nearly 118 hours of flight, which means 5 days and 5 night of non-stop over the Pacific Ocean.  


This flight established two records at the same time: indeed, besides breaking the record for the longest sun-powered flight, the pilot André Borschberg set the record for the longest solo flight by time (the last record was 76 hours).

It is a dream coming true for the two founders of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, after 12 years of research, tests and development: through this first oceanic flight of the world journey (that it is also the longest leg of the entire adventure) they demonstrated the potential of clean technologies.

Today Solar Impulse is the only airplane of perpetual endurance, which is able to fly day and night on solar power without using fuel. It is a single-seat aircraft made of carbon fiber, which aims to write history revolutionising the way we think renewable energies: the unimaginable is now reality. Solar Impulse has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747-8I) for a weight of just 2,300 Kg, equivalent to that of a car. How does it work then? 17,000 solar cells are built into the wing: they supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. How can it flight during the night?

The solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg during the day, allowing the aircraft to fly at night. This is the reason why Solar Impulse has virtually unlimited autonomy.

The human factor poses further challenges especially for long flight: indeed, the single pilot lives in a 3.8 m3 unheated and unpressurized cockpit for 5 or 6 days and night in a row. In addition, the endurance and vigilance required from the pilot do not allow him to sleep for more than 20 minutes consecutively.

The world journey is already halfway: after this historical solar flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, Bertrand Piccard will soon fly to Phoenix to continue the adventure.

Despite the rising up of technical, human and operational challenges that have never been faced before, we are assisting to the demonstration of the unexplored and unknown potential of solar energy.


Eliana Canavesio