Aircraft

Solar Impulse 2 stuck in Hawaii after record-breaking flight

Solar Impulse 2 stuck in Hawai...
The public was invited to check out the plane in Hawaii
The public was invited to check out the plane in Hawaii
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Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaiian island of Oahu
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Solar Impulse 2 approaching Hawaiian island of Oahu
Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii
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Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii
The public was invited to check out the plane in Hawaii
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The public was invited to check out the plane in Hawaii

Flying around the world on only the power of the sun turns out to be more of a stop-and-go affair than even the team behind Solar Impulse 2 may have guessed. The solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft began circling the globe from Abu Dhabi back in March, but must now remain in Hawaii until early August. While Swiss pilot and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg survived a record-breaking five-day flight from Nagoya, Japan to Oahu with just minimal sleep, SI2's batteries didn't all fare so well without rest.

After checking out the plane on the ground in Hawaii, the Solar Impulse team now reports that irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs and replacements that will keep the craft out of the air for at least the next 2-3 weeks.

Over-insulation of the batteries caused them to overheat during ascent on the first day of the Japan to Hawaii leg. The team says that while this situation was closely watched during the flight there was no way to decrease the temperature during the record-breaking flight, which required daily ascents to 28,000 feet for energy-management reasons.

Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii
Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii

While Solar Impulse 2 undergoes repairs, the team also says it will be looking into ways to better deal with heating and cooling during long flights.

Once it's ready to get back in the air, the journey continues to the US mainland, where a few stops are planned before setting a course over the Atlantic and eventually back to Abu Dhabi.

Source: Solar Impulse

Flying around the world on only the power of the sun turns out to be more of a stop-and-go affair than even the team behind Solar Impulse 2 may have guessed. The solar-powered, single-pilot aircraft began circling the globe from Abu Dhabi back in March, but must now remain in Hawaii until early August. While Swiss pilot and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg survived a record-breaking five-day flight from Nagoya, Japan to Oahu with just minimal sleep, SI2's batteries didn't all fare so well without rest.

After checking out the plane on the ground in Hawaii, the Solar Impulse team now reports that irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs and replacements that will keep the craft out of the air for at least the next 2-3 weeks.

Over-insulation of the batteries caused them to overheat during ascent on the first day of the Japan to Hawaii leg. The team says that while this situation was closely watched during the flight there was no way to decrease the temperature during the record-breaking flight, which required daily ascents to 28,000 feet for energy-management reasons.

Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii
Solar Impulse 2 above Hawaii

While Solar Impulse 2 undergoes repairs, the team also says it will be looking into ways to better deal with heating and cooling during long flights.

Once it's ready to get back in the air, the journey continues to the US mainland, where a few stops are planned before setting a course over the Atlantic and eventually back to Abu Dhabi.

Source: Solar Impulse

8 comments
mhpr262
Batteries damaged by overheating - it's a Nissan LEAF with wings.
Eletruk
At least it wasn't a Boeing 787 type of issue. Nissan Leaf did suffer from heat damaging the batteries, but they don't insulate the batteries (or heat or cool them) at all. The SI2 insulated the batteries from the cold of high altitude, but apparently didn't include any cooling when they got too hot, so the heat was trapped in the batteries.
seulater
I am amazed how engineers make something and don't fully test it. Being one myself, one of the first rules is a burn in test. Had they simply locked the wheels and ran it for more than 24 hours they would have known about this issue before they wasted their time. Hopefully its a lesson learned.
Kaiser Derden
wow ... a mans life was dependent on what was apparently a very flawed design ...
ikarus342000
When designing such a total different aircraft not everything can be perfect. The important thing is that Mr. Andrew Borschberg set a new record flying a Solar powered aircraft in almost 5 day's over a distance of 7200 km. This is a piece of history and shows already now what can be done with solar power.
watersworm
The most important word for SI records is "stuck" (by meteo...)
Roy Murray
Surely the whole point of these endeavours is to encounter and correct unforeseen difficulties. The fact that difficulties arose should not be cause for people to smugly crow, 'I told you so.'.
pmshah
I wonder what kind of real life experience these other commenting engineers have. Do they realise that all batteries have limitations on operating temperatures for acceptable performance? The ground temperature in AbuDhabi can be 50° C while at the elevation of 28000 feet it can be - 10° - 15° C. I have seen a lot of people in Chicago area trickle charging their batteries at night during winter just to keep it warm so that the car would start the next morning. Unlike the normal changes on the ground for automobile batteries that take place the one happening in such an aircraft is much faster. So their calculation for insulation was wrong. They will go back to the drawing board and fix it. " Had they simply locked the wheels and ran it for more than 24 hours they would have known about this issue before they wasted their time. " They would also have to simulated the ambient temperature at flight elevation. Not as easy as said.