Early this morning, the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse II, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, landed in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, completing a full circuit of the globe. The aircraft’s 17-leg journey involved 23 days of flying, covering a distance of 43,041 kilometres.
Piccard took off from Egypt and arrived in Abu Dhabi at 4:05 am local time. A few hours before touching down in Abu Dhabi, Bertrand Piccard spoke to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon live from the cockpit: “Solar Impulse has flown more than 40,000 kilometres without fuel, but with an inexhaustible supply of energy and inspiration. This is a historic day for Captain Piccard and the Solar Impulse team, but it is also a historic day for humanity,” said the UN Secretary-General. “You may be ending your around the world flight today, but the journey to a more sustainable world is just beginning. The Solar Impulse team is helping to pilot us to that future.”
“Flying one leg with a completely new type of airplane is difficult enough, but flying around the world is a real challenge. More than a demonstration, it’s the confirmation that these technologies are truly dependable and reliable,” emphasized CEO, co-founder and pilot André Borschberg. “There is so much potential for the aeronautical world: while one hundred percent solar powered airplanes might take longer to materialize, electric airplanes will develop in the near future because of their tremendous advantages such as energy efficiency.”
“This is not only a first in the history of aviation; it’s before all a first in the history of energy. I’m sure that within 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes transporting 50 passengers on short to medium haul flights. But it’s not enough. The same clean technologies used on Solar Impulse could be implemented on the ground in our daily life to divide by two the CO2 emissions in a profitable way. Solar Impulse is only the beginning, now take it further! ” said initiator, chairman and pilot Bertrand Piccard, addressing the crowd on arrival.
“We have flown 40’000 kilometres without fuel, but there is still a lot to be done to encourage a worldwide implementation of clean technologies and to motivate everyone to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels in their daily lives, hence the creation of the International Committee for Clean Technologies,” emphasized Bertrand Piccard.
“Solar Impulse is of course very well positioned to contribute to the next generations of manned or unmanned electric aircrafts. By capitalizing on the engineering skills and expertise gained over the past decade, we will continue to work to encourage concrete innovations and disruptive solutions,” concluded André Borschberg.
The video below shows highlights of their epic global journey.
Bertrand Piccard, a trained psychiatrist and round-the-world balloonist, who lives in Lausanne Switzerland, comes from a family of explorers. His father, Jacques Piccard was an undersea explorer, and his grandfather Auguste Piccard was a balloonist. He and Brian Jones were the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the world in 1999.
André Borschberg, a Swiss businessman from Zurich Switzerland, trained as a mechanical engineer and flew for the Swiss Air Force.