The completion of the flight by a zero-emission aircraft capable of flying day and night without fuel proved that technological innovation “can achieve the impossible,” said the project team, promising to follow up by launching new projects “such as the development of solar-powered drones.”
The concluding hours of flying the aircraft outfitted with 17,000 solar cells had at times been challenging because of weather as Piccard, the mission’s co-founder, made his way along the approximately 1,470-nautical-mile course.
“After confronting new flight conditions, including high temperatures, upward and downward drafts, and winds in the flight planning, the night was turbulent and it was difficult for Bertrand Piccard to sleep,” the team reported on its website.
Co-founder André Borschberg had flown the preceding flight leg from Spain to Cairo on July 13 as Piccard and Borschberg had alternated flight legs on the mission. On the occasion of the July 13 landing in Cairo, AOPA reported that Piccard’s vision of flying an airplane around the world on solar power to promote clean energy had originated in the Egyptian city after he completed a nonstop, round-the-world balloon flight there in 1999.
Last July the team suffered a serious setback when overheating batteries caused irreversible damage to some components, requiring months of repairs and test flights in Hawaii before Piccard could launch on what would be a 62-hour, 29-minute overwater flight to California. The leg was accomplished April 23 with a landing at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California.
Solar Impulse posted a YouTube video of the final landing in Abu Dhabi on its website and added an online “logbook” entry to set out the team’s vision of how it plans to continue to advocate for clean energy innovation after accomplishing their “crazy dream” of the earthrounding flight.
“Beyond this historic milestone, the two Swiss pioneers will continue to urge the global implementation of energy efficient solutions through the creation of the International Committee for Clean Technologies and leverage the expertise and technology gained over the years in Solar Impulse by launching new innovative projects, such as the development of solar powered drones,” it said.