September 2022, Virtual
September 29 2022, Virtual
Now in its 27th year, the Business Travel Awards
A solar-powered plane has flown for more than 24 hours, using only the sun's energy.
The Swiss plane, registered as HB-SIA, reached an altitude of 8,700m with the help of solar panels built into its 63.4m wing.
The flight started at 6.15am local time, and lasted until 9am the following morning.
During the day, the plane's batteries were charged up by the 12,000 solar panels. These 400kg of batteries then kept the plane flying throughout the night, without needing to land.
Claude Nicollier, the pilot of the plane, and CEO of Solar Impulse, the company behind the project described the experience: "During the flight, I just sat there and watched the battery level rise and rise. Sitting in a plane producing more energy than it consumes is a fantastic feeling."
Bertrand Piccard, president of Solar Impulse, said the 24-hour flight was a "highly symbolic" moment.
"Flying by night, using solely solar power is a stunning manifestation of the potential than clean technologies offer today to reduce the dependency of our society on fossil fuels," he said.
Piccard was the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon, beating Virgin's Richard Branson to the title.
The Solar Impulse plane completed its first full test flight in April this year, when it reached an altitude of 1200.
Solar Impulse hopes to build a second plane by 2011, which will be able to circumnavigate the globe - it will have a pressurized cockpit and advanced avionics to allow for trans-oceanic flights.