Solar Impulse 2 completes first flight

Composites-intensive, solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 flew for the first time on June 2, ahead of the craft's 2015 around-the-world flight attempt.

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Solar Impulse 2, the composites-intensive solar-powered aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, on June 2 carried out its first flight out of the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland.

The single-seater aircraft, with which Piccard and Borschberg are attempting to carry out the first solar-powered flight around the world in 2015, flew for 2 hours, 17 minutes. Professional test pilot Marcus Scherdel flew the craft. The initial results are in line with calculations and simulations. There will be several other flights taking place in the coming months in order for this experimental machine to attain certification.

“This inaugural flight is an important stage — a step closer towards the round-the-world flight. It is also a huge emotional step for the entire team and all our partners who have worked on the aircraft. Si2 incorporates a vast amount of new technology to render it more efficient, reliable and in particular better adapted to long haul flights. It is the first aircraft which will have almost unlimited endurance,” says Borschberg, Solar Impulse cofounder, CEO and pilot.

“Throughout such an innovative project, each stage is a leap into the unknown. Today suspense was at a high! The results show that our team of engineers can be very proud of the work it has accomplished during the last 10 years,” adds Piccard, Solar Impulse founder, president and pilot.

The flight reached a maximum altitude of 1,650m/5,500 ft and had an average ground speed of 55.6 kmh/30 knots.

Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) first flight video.