This weekend, the Sunplane “Solar Impulse” landed in New York. A milestone! This is the first time that an airplane has flown across the United States without using any fuel.
The flight from west to east is divided into several stages. On May 3, the team started the first race from San Francisco to Phoenix. Subsequently, the solar plane landed in cities such as Phoenix, St. Louis, Washington and New York.
Solar Impulse CEO André Borschberg’s plane landed at John F. Kennedy Airport three hours earlier than expected. “The final stage was difficult because the material was scattered from the left flank. We investigated various situations, including the transfer to the Atlantic Ocean, but finally decided to land at JFK Airport. Such problems are part of this kind of experimental flight.”
Travel around the world
Borschberg has grand plans for solar-powered aircraft. “In 2015, we hope to travel around the world in a solar plane,” Borschberg said. “In recent months, we have acquired a lot of knowledge to prepare for this world trip.”
53 kilometers per hour
In recent months, the Sunplane has flown a total of 5650 kilometers. The whole process took 105 hours and 41 minutes. This means that the average speed is 53.3 kilometers per hour. This is far less than an average commercial airliner of 1,000 kilometers per hour.
Solar power relies on solar energy. The weight of the aircraft is only slightly lighter than the passenger car, but the width of the wings is the same as that of the Airbus A340. These wings are covered with 12,000 solar cells. This electrical energy is stored, so “solar power” can also fly at night. “We must take every watt provided by the sun and store all unnecessary energy in the battery,” Borschberg explained.
Although “solar power” will not be used to transport passengers in the near future, the main purpose of the American campaign is to raise awareness and promote the development of sustainable technology. Therefore, stopovers in American cities are very important.