A record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a solar powered plane has got under way from Abu Dhabi. The aircraft called Solar Impulse 2 took off from Al Bateen Executive Airport, Abu Dhabi on 09-03-2015, heading east to Muscat in Oman.
Over the next five months, it will skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the process.
Dignitaries and media gathered together on the tarmac of Al Bateen Executive Airport to watch the take-off of the single-seat aircraft, which will be fully powered by solar energy for the entirety of its trip and will not consume a single drop of fuel.
The plane is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72m (236 feet), are longer than on a Boeing 747 and approaching those of an Airbus A380 superjumbo and the lightweight carbon fibre aircraft weighs only 2.3 tonnes, about the same as a family 4X4 and less than one percent of the weight of the A380.
The Si2 is the first solar-powered aircraft able to stay aloft for several days and nights. The propeller-driven craft has four 17.5 horsepower electric motors with rechargeable lithium batteries.
It will travel at 50-100kmph, with the slower speeds at night to prevent the batteries from draining too quickly.
The aircraft was piloted by Andre Borschberg, one of the founders of the Solar Impulse 2, for its first flight to Muscat, Oman. Betrand Piccard, the co-founder behind the project, will then pilot the aircraft for its second journey, with both pilots alternating for the 12 flights.
First Solar powered plane begins journey from Abu Dhabi in pictures