Aircraft

Next leg of Solar Impulse round-the-world flight pushed back to April 2016

Next leg of Solar Impulse roun...
Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaii
Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaii
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Shot from the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2 as taken by pilot Andre Borschberg
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Shot from the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2 as taken by pilot Andre Borschberg
Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaii
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Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaii
Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5 day continuous flight
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Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5 day continuous flight
Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5-day continuous flight
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Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5-day continuous flight
Solar Impulse 2 landed safely at Kalaeloa Airport
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Solar Impulse 2 landed safely at Kalaeloa Airport

The Solar Impulse team has announced that the completion of its round-the-world solar flight will now be postponed until next April. The batteries of the Solar Impulse 2 solar-powered aircraft sustaineddamage as the aircraft ascended to an optimal energy-managementaltitude of 28,000 ft (8,534 m) on the first day of itsambitious Japan-to-Hawaii flight. Itis believed that a high rate of climb coupled with over-insulation ofthe gondolas resulted in irreversible overheating damage to the aircraft'sbatteries.

Whilstthe aircraft was able to safely reach its destination, the incidentrepresents a serious setback to the endeavor, which thus farhas been a story of triumph and hardship. The team states that thefailure was not a technical or design issue, but rather an evaluationerror in accessing battery cooling requirements in the tropicalclimate.

In the context of theambitious design and scope of the project, technical delays such asthose currently being experienced were foreseeable, if not on somelevel inevitable. Yet, despite these setbacks, Solar Impulse 2 hasachieved remarkable milestones in the aviation sphere.

Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5 day continuous flight
Solar Impulse 2 nearing the end of its 5 day continuous flight

Even on the five-day flight to Hawaii on which it sustained the catastrophicbattery damage, the aircraft managed to make its mark in the historybooks, smashing the record for the longest distance and duration fora solar aviation flight, and setting the record for the longest-eversolo flight of any kind. Not bad for an experimental aircraft with awingspan greater than that of a Boeing 747-8I, built largely frommaterials lighter than paper, and four engines powered by 17,248solar cells.

It is expected that theSolar Impulse 2 will remain at a hangar in Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii,as the team makes repairs to the airplane. Should the refit go withouta hitch, the aircraft will take to the skies in earlyApril as the team attempts to continue its epic migration, with the nextport of call situated on the west coast of the US.

Source: Solar Impulse

3 comments
Brian M
Not sure how they can say ' that the failure was not a technical or design issue', it was a design failure in not assessing the technical requirements of the working environment and for not having critical temperature monitoring sensors that could have alerted the pilots to the overheating situation! Although doesn't detract from their accomplishments so far!
teddilu
its funny ... they may have completely different goals, but Solar Impulse seems to me set to demonstrate that solar flight is impractical, dangerous and expensive. On the other hand, I keep an eye on Sunseeker Duo, which cannot fly overnight but during the day it can happily keep 2 persons over the Alps (watch the youtube video to see the pilot and passenger smiling faces ... no other comments needed). I think it can takeoff and land from grassy meadows as any motorized sailing plane.. no ultra wide wingspan nonsense requiring 747-enabled runways.
saveenergy
13 + mths to circumnavigate the world !!! you can do it in 45 days by sailboat. I wonder what the actual carbon footprint of Solar Impulse is ??