Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Spain After Trans-Atlantic Flight

Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Spain After Trans-Atlantic Flight

The aircraft took off from New York's JFK airport Monday night.

Solar Impulse 2, the experimental solar plane that has been touted as a "flying microgrid" has crossed the Atlantic without a drop of fuel. Flying into the southern Spanish city of Seville as the sun rose behind him, pilot Betrand Piccard was flanked by an honor guard from the Spanish formation flying team Patrulla Aguila, according to a CNN report.

The aircraft, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 but only weighs about as much as an SUV, took off from New York's JFK airport Monday night after mission engineers identified a narrow weather window in which to undertake the nearly four-day flight, CNN reported.

Piccard flew a total flight time of 71 hours and 8 minutes before landing in Seville.

Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman, and André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder, are the pilots and driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first airplane propelled solely by the sun’s energy. Supported by: Main Partners — Solvay, Omega, Schindler and ABB; Official Partners — Google, Altran, Covestro, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, Swisscom and Moët Hennessy; and Host Partners — Masdar in Abu Dhabi and Foundation Prince Albert II in Monaco, they are attempting the first round-the-world solar flight.

Si2 is a single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber that has a 236 ft wingspan and a weight of 5,100 lbs. The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing power the four batteries (38.5kWh per battery) that in turn power the four electric engines (13.5kW / 17.5 hp each) and the propellers. The plane's systems store energy during the daylight and fly through the night on battery power. Theoretically, Si2 could fly forever and is only limited by the pilot’s sustainability.

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