Solar Impulse: All you need to know about world's only no-fuel aircraft

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The world's only 'no-fuel' solar- powered aircraft 'Solar Impulse-2' on Thursday took off for Myanmar from Varanasi after overnight stopover, ending its week-long journey in India as part of the round-the-world trip.

Representational image

What is Solar Impulse?

  • Solar Impulse is claimed to be the first aircraft to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, propelled solely by the sun's energy.
  • The single-seater aircraft, made of carbon fibre, has a 72 meter wingspan, larger than that of Boeing-747 and weighs only 2,300 kg. 
  • The 17,248 solar cells on the wing recharge four lithium polymer batteries weighing 633 kg each, which allow the aircraft to fly at night. 
  • It ranges between 50-160kmph, faster during days and slower at night to prevent batteries from draining quickly.
  • It flies at 27,800 feet during the day, 5,000 feet at night.
  • The SI-2 from Mandalay in Myanmar is scheduled to reach Chongqing and Nanjing in China and thereafter to USA.
Who are the pilots?
  • Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg - both Swiss, fly the aircraft by turns.
  • One pilot flies one leg, the other meets the flight at the next stop and takes the charge.
Total distance it will cover
  • It will cover 35,000 km in five months.
  • It will fly over 3 continents and 2 oceans. 
Its journey
  • The aircraft began its journey on March 9 from Abu Dhabi. 
  • Swiss pilot Piccard had flown the plane from Muscat to Ahmedabad, while Borschberg flew it to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • From Varanasi, the aircraft is scheduled to fly to Mandalay in Myanmar, Chongqing and Nanjing in China and thereafter to the US. 
  • The aircraft, which on round-the world trip, has spent nearly a week in India.
  • The Solar Impulse-2 is currently flying the fourth leg.

Solar Impulse's one week in India

Solar Impulse: All you need to know
  • The plane reached Ahmedabad on March 10 and was stationed for six days there before arriving in Varanasi on Wednesday.
  • The Aircraft made a night stop in Varanasi for nearly 8 hours. 
  • The CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse, Andre Borschberg, had flown the solar-powered aircraft to Varanasi from Ahmedabad. 
  • The aircraft maintained a minimum altitude of around 5,200 metres on its flight to Varanasi. 

(With agency inputs)

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