Flying on empty
An around-the-world flight -- without a drop of fuel
The first attempted around-the-world solar flight will depart from Abu Dhabi on March 1. The Solar Impulse 2 won’t have any fuel onboard. It’ll make 12 stops in Asia, North America and Europe over the five-month, 35,000-kilometre trip before returning to the UAE capital at the beginning of August. Two pilots will take turns flying the airplane of “perpetual endurance” for five to six days and nights in a row logging a total of 500 flying hours each. The single-seat cockpit is unheated and unpressurized, but don’t worry, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will be protected by high-density thermal insulation, and their seat includes a parachute and life-raft. When fully reclined, it is intended to allow the pilot to perform some physical exercise. Oh — and it’s also a toilet. The aircraft is made of carbon fibre, has a 72 metre wingspan. The four electric engines operate on 17,000 solar cells which also recharge lithium batteries for night flying. solarimpulse.com.
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