Solar Impulse Completes Marathon Simulated Flight

Solar-powered round-the-world trip is one step closer to reality.

Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse
** Solar Impulse CEO André Borschberg
completes simulated flight training to assist
in the design of the second Solar Impulse
aircraft.**

André Borschberg, the CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse, has completed three continuous days and nights of simulated flight in preparation for the planned solar-powered circumnavigation of earth scheduled to take place in 2014. The purpose of the simulated flight was to evaluate the effects of continuous flight on the human body and the design and configuration of the airplane's cockpit. The information will be taken into consideration for the final design of the second Solar Impulse airplane – the one that will be used for the flight around the world.

The first Solar Impulse prototype, the HB-SIA, has already achieved several milestones including a solar-powered night flight on July 7, 2010, with Borschberg at the controls. The flight lasted 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds. The airplane also completed its first international flight in May of last year.

Borschberg stayed awake for most of the simulated journey, taking only what he referred to in Twitter messages as “micro naps” - sleeps lasting approximately 20 minutes. Scientists from the EPFL (Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute) and doctors from the Hirslanden Private Hospital Group were present, making recommendations for optimal fatigue management.

Another big concern for a journey of this magnitude is sustenance. The importance of selecting food that is easy to consume became evident about two days into the simulation, when a seemingly exhausted Borschberg tweeted “No more hot water, no energy to heat up water, I will eat cold today, snacks, dry fruits and right now a taboule.”

And speaking of sustenance, elimination is another challenge that seems to have been solved by partner company Lantal, which designed a special pneumatically adjustable seat complete with an integrated lav.