Round-the-world solar plane reaches second Chinese destination

Beijing, April 22: Solar Impulse (Si2), the solar plane on a mission to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel, arrived at the Chinese city of Nanjing on Tuesday on the final leg of its stay in China.

The Swiss-made plane arrived in Nanjing at 11.26 p.m. on Tuesday after nearly 17 hours of flight from southwest Chinese municipality of Chongqing, according to a Xinhua report.

solar impulse

Powered by more than 17,000 solar cells installed on its wings, Si2 is on a mission to circumnavigate the globe to promote green energy.

The plane landed in Chongqing on March 31, and was only meant to stay there for a brief period before heading to Nanjing, but the flight to Nanjing was postponed because of inclement weather.

The plane left Chongqing at 6.08 a.m. on Tuesday, with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls for the 1,190 km flight to Nanjing.

Co-pilot Andre Borschberg was scheduled to fly the plane to Nanjing, but had to return to Switzerland because of health problems.

Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, the single-seater Si2, which started its journey from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 9, will travel 35,000 km around the world.

The plane had set two world records for manned solar-powered flight, according to reports.

The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey -- that of 1,468 km between Muscat in Oman and Ahmedabad in India.

The second was for a groundspeed of 117 knots (216 kmph), which was achieved during the flight from Varanasi in India to Myanmar's second largest city of Mandalay.

After leaving China, the plane will fly across the US and stop in Africa before finally returning to Abu Dhabi.


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