Yesterday, the Solar Impulse team announced that the solar-powered aircraft could be grounded for several days after an incident with its custom inflatable hangar. However, no damage was found by the engineering team and Solar Impulse 2 was cleared for take-off, leaving Dayton, Ohio, at 4.02 am local time today on its way to Lehigh Valley International Airport, Pennsylvania.
The designed-for-purpose mobile hangar is used to protect Solar Impulse 2 from the elements when regular hangars are not available, and is inflated by fans to keep it rigid. A brief power failure yesterday caused the top of the hangar to touch the fuselage and the wings of the aircraft. The issue was quickly resolved and the hangar reinflated, but inspections for damage to Solar Impulse 2 needed to be undertaken.
Engineers at Dayton worked during the night with colleagues in Dübendorf, Switzerland, to look for signs of damage, eventually giving the green light for take-off with Bertrand Piccard at the controls.
Solar Impulse expects the aircraft to land in Pennsylvania at 9 pm local time tonight. After a short stopover, the aircraft will continue on its round-the-world trip, heading to New York before crossing the Atlantic to Europe or North Africa in its way back to its starting point.
Source: Solar Impulse