June 30, 2009
By Alton K. Marsh
Used by permission. Copyright Solar Impulse/EVFL Claudio Leonardi
A follow on to the Solar Impulse electric airplane that rolled out in Switzerland in June may circle the world in 2012. The development model, unveiled by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, will fly at the end of 2009 and gather data for the final model. It can fly both night and day using batteries and solar power.
Piccard, a psychiatrist, made the first round-the-world flight by balloon, and Borschberg is an airplane and helicopter pilot with management experience. The model just unveiled carries only one pilot. The four-electric-motor aircraft must become light enough during further development to carry two pilots if a trip around the world made in segments lasting four to five days each is to succeed. The idea is to push the science needed to accomplish the goal.
Helping with that is a large chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer, Solvay, the Omega watch company, and Deutsche Bank. Solvay has designed the cockpit and many of the parts for the aircraft using lightweight polymers. The unveiling in late June occurred near Zurich before 200 international press representatives and hundreds more watching on the Internet including 60 people in China.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
AOPA worked with the flight training industry and FAA to quickly resolve a problem that suddenly put many rating applications on hold.
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