Solar Impulse 2 grounded by weather in Japan

The composites-intensive, solar-powered airplane was en route on a five-day journey from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii when poor weather over the Pacific Ocean forced the plane to land in Nagoya, Japan.

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The Swiss solar-powered and composites-intensive airplane Solar Impulse 2, which took off Saturday, May 31, 2015 at 2:39 am local time from Nanjing, China, to cross the Pacific Ocean on a five-day journey to Hawaii, was obliged to make an intermediate landing in Najoya, Japan, due to worsening weather conditions.

After a successful start and 44 hours of flight, breaking all the duration and distance records for a solar-powered airplane, the Solar Impulse weather team observed the development to a cold front en route to Hawaii that would be too difficult to cross. During a few hours of holding position above the Sea of Japan, experts at the Mission Control Center in Monaco analyzed the situation and took the difficult decision to divert pilot André Borschberg toward Nagoya-Komaki Airport. The Solar Impulse mission will now wait for optimal weather conditions in order to continue its flight around the world via Hawaii.

“Of course we are a bit disappointed not to have made the flight nonstop to Hawaii, but elated that our solar airplane made such a great demonstration of the potential of clean technologies by flying two days and two nights without fuel!” says Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse initiator, chairman and pilot.

The plane performed extremely well and only the weather couldn’t match the high expectations of flying even longer on solar power. André Borschberg, co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse, says, “I know the decision to divert to Nagoya has not been easy to take by the Monaco Control Center, because the technical aspect of the flight was going so well. This landing has been made possible by the extraordinary support of all the Japanese authorities, for which Solar Impulse is thankful!”

During the flight from Nanjing to Nagoya, maximum altitude was 8,634m; average speed was 65 kmh; and flight distance was 2,852 km. The Solar Impulse team will now work on a search for a new weather window that will allow the plane to fly from Nagoya to Hawaii.