Solar Impulse Completes Round-the-World Flight

All-solar-powered Si2 returns to Abu Dhabi.

Solar Impulse Abu Dhabi
Solar Impulse makes its final approach for landing in Abu Dhabi, where its round-the-world trip began more than 16 months ago.Solar Impulse

More than 16 months after taking off from Abu Dhabi, the Solar Impulse Si2 has completed its trip around the globe, marking the successful conclusion of a journey many thought to be impossible. There were setbacks along the way, but the Solar Impulse team, led by pilots and Solar Impulse co-founders André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, brought the Si2 around the globe without using an ounce of fuel. The airplane’s four motors are run by solar power.

The round-the-world journey took a total of 558 hours and six minutes of flight time to complete, flying a total distance of 23,240 nautical miles divided into 17 legs. Borschberg and Piccard traded off legs along the way. The final leg from the Cairo International Airport to the Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi took 48 hours and 37 minutes and was flown by Piccard, who initiated the ambitious project.

Most of the team’s setbacks were due to weather that threatened the integrity of the lightweight structure. After departing from Abu Dhabi in early March of last year, the Si2 was stuck for months in Asia while waiting for weather conditions that would facilitate the continuation of the mission. The team also had to abort the first attempt at flying across the Pacific — a leg that eventually took Borschberg five days and nights to complete.

At the end of that record-breaking journey, the batteries of the Si2 were fried and the airplane was parked for the fall and winter in Hawaii. During that time period the team’s strategy changed. Rather than having set destinations, the team opted for several potential landing places to make itself more flexible. The strategy worked, and the flight continued through North America, Europe and the Middle East without any major delays.

We at Flying congratulate the Solar Impulse team on the completion of its historic flight.

Along its journey, the Si2 stopped at Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, California, where Flying had a chance to catch up with the team. Take a closer look at the solar-powered aircraft. Photo Gallery