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Solar plane arrives in Nanjing

Si2 prepares for historic Pacific crossing in the first round-the-world flight without fuel
2014_FirstFlight_revillard Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

Solar Impulse 2 (‘Si2’), the world’s most advanced solar-powered plane and the first to fly day and night without fuel, has landed successfully in Nanjing, People’s Republic of China, following a 20-day stay in Chongqing.

With Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls, the solar plane concluded the sixth leg of its historic trip around the world.

Preparing for the Pacific

This journey was also essential from a technical perspective as it was used to verify and fine-tune final elements in the preparation of the Pacific Ocean crossing scheduled for early May, pending favourable weather conditions.

‘My job as a pilot was relatively easy. The preparatory measures however proved challenging for our team of weather specialists and engineers from SI’s Partner Altran at the Monaco Control Center.

‘We simulated all possible trajectories and exhausted all different strategies to get Solar Impulse 2 in the air; from defining pit-stops at airports along the route, to different speeds, altitudes and holding patterns.

‘Throughout the entire process, the Chinese authorities have been unfailingly helpful and open to our ideas. We are amazed by the spirit of our team and the willingness of our partners to help us achieve our goal: the first round-the-world flight without fuel.’

Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse initiator and chairman

An aviation first

This last leg is bringing Solar Impulse one step closer to an aviation first – the next part of the circumnavigation will require flying five consecutive days and nights in a solar-powered aircraft to cross the Pacific, a feat that has never been accomplished before.

‘Nanjing represents a turning point in the entire mission; this is where everything comes together for us as pilots after initiating the project 12 years ago.

‘This is the moment of truth where all the technical and human challenges will have to be overcome. We now have less than a month to mentally and physically prepare for what will be Solar Impulse’s longest flight to date: a five day and five night journey across the Pacific Ocean from Nanjing to Hawaii.’

André Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse

André Borschberg is currently in his home country Switzerland, where he traveled last week to be evaluated and treated for migraine symptoms and a minor skin condition. André will return to the Solar Impulse team later this week to begin the final preparations for the next leg to Hawaii (USA).

Showcasing clean technologies

SI’s pioneering spirit, shared and supported by partner companies and organisations, has demonstrated that it is now possible to achieve incredible things with clean technologies: new industrial processes such as insulating houses, electric mobility, household appliances and many other products and applications which can improve living standards.

The time spent in Nanjing will be an important occasion for Solar Impulse’s partners, providing an opportunity to showcase to customers, clients and employees in China their contribution to the Solar Impulse mission.

In the coming months, Piccard and Borschberg will continue their expedition around the globe promoting a cleaner future.

The journey

Given the low speed of the ultra-light aircraft, the round-the-world mission will demand over 500 flight hours—or nearly three weeks in the air. The journey will be spread over five months, covering roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 km).

Si2 is the largest aircraft ever built with such a low weight, which is equivalent to that of a small car.

After crossing the Pacific Ocean, Solar Impulse will stop in the United States and then either North Africa or Southern Europe, before returning to Abu Dhabi to complete the first ever round-the-world solar flight.

The Solar Impulse mission so far

  • 09 March 2015: First leg Abu Dhabi (UAE) – Al Bateen Executive Airport/Muscat (Oman) – Muscat International Airport
  • 10 March 2015: Second leg Muscat (Oman) – Muscat International Airport/Ahmedabad (India) – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport
  • 18 March 2015: Third leg Ahmedabad (India) – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport/Varanasi (India) – Varanasi International Airport
  • 19 March 2015: Fourth Leg Varanasi (India) – Varanasi International/Mandalay (Myanmar) – Mandalay International Airport
  • 29 March 2015: Fifth Leg Mandalay (Myanmar) – Mandalay International Airport/Chongqing (China) – Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport
  • 21 April 2015: Sixth Leg Chongqing (China) – Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport/Nanjing (China) – Nanjing Lukou International Airport

You can follow the adventure of the first round-the-world solar flight on, which features daily updates on the mission.

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