Solar Impulse 2 temporarily grounded after hangar accident

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Solar Impulse 2 has been grounded temporarily after its inflatable hangar partially collapsed(Credit: Solar Impulse)

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Solar Impulse 2 is temporarily grounded in Dayton, Ohio after a minor accident. The next leg of the solar-powered aircraft's round-the-world-flight was scheduled for May 24, but the unexpected minor collapse of its inflatable hangar resulted in the craft being lightly touched by the hangar fabric. Solar Impulse says that the airplane will now spend several days on the ground as engineers search for damage.

Solar Impulse 2 has been at the Dayton International Airport since May 21 when it completed the 12th leg of its solar-powered circumnavigation. The over 16-hour flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma was without incident and made better than expected time due to a favorable tailwind. After a short stopover, it was expected to head on to LeHigh Valley International Airport in Pennsylvania, weather permitting.

According to the Solar impulse team, when the aircraft was stored in the bespoke inflatable hangar that travels ahead of its with its support team, a malfunction occurred in the power supply to the fans that keep the hangar inflated. The two-and-a-half minute power outage allowed the hanger to partially deflate until it made contact with parts of Solar Impulse 2. Because of the necessity of making the craft as light as possible, it is also very delicate, so a complete inspection has been initiated.

Solar Impulse 2's around the world flight began in March 2015, when it took off from Abu Dhabi. After a record-breaking Pacific Ocean crossing, it was grounded in Hawaii for several months due to battery damage caused by overheating, but resumed its journey in April of this year and reached California on April after a 62-hour flight.

After reaching LeHigh Valley with Bertrand Piccard at the controls, Solar Impulse 2 will continue on to New York, followed by a transatlantic crossing to Europe or North Africa before making its way back to its starting point.

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