We did take a look at the Solar Impulse earlier this month, and it is now official – the solar-powered aircraft has taken to the skies for its maiden international flight from Switzerland to Belgium. The aircraft already holds a 26-hour record for flight duration, where it is tipped to take around a dozen hours before arriving at the Brussels Airport. Of course, being a solar-powered plane, there are many technical challenges to be aware of including making sure the plane is as light and power efficient as possible. It resembles a dragon fly in terms of its shape (perhaps the most optimal at the moment for something like it?), taking in only one person at a time.
Piloted by co-founder Andre Borschberg, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA might share a wingspan with that of a large airliner, but is surprisingly lightweight by being no heavier than your average saloon car.
According to Borschberg, “Flying an aircraft like Solar Impulse through European airspace to land at an international airport is an incredible challenge for all of us, and success depends on the support we receive from all the authorities concerned.”
We won’t see solar-powered commercial aircraft anytime soon, but this is certainly a giant leap for air travel – at least on a more personal level.