The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 aircraft will soon attempt to set a world record by traveling around the world without without using a single drop of fuel. After years of R&D, the team behind the innovative solar-powered plane just unveiled its detailed global flight route, which is set to take off in Abu Dhabi. In addition to making solar aviation history, the Swiss co-founders, Betrand Piccard and André Borschberg, and the Solar Impuse 2 Partners hope that the completion of the world’s first circumnavigating solar flight will boost greater support for clean, renewable technologies.
Slated for take off in either late February or early March 2015, the Solar Impulse 2 flight is expected to span approximately 25 flight days across 5 months and land in 12 different locations. The single-seater plane will cover approximately 21,748 miles at speeds between 30 and 60 miles per hour. Although it’s not the first solar airplane, the emissions-free Solar Impulse 2 is the most energy efficient aircraft to date and can fly without fuel for five consecutive days and nights—a feat no other plane has ever achieved.
“With our attempt to complete the first solar powered round-the-world flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible,” says Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse. “We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish here on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet’s natural resources.”
The round-the-world route will start in Abu Dhabi and include stops in Muscat Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China. The plane will then fly across the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and stop in at least three U.S. cities—Phoenix, New York City, and a to-be-determined Midwestern city. Lastly, the plane will cross the Atlantic back to Abu Dhabi, with a stopover in either Southern Europe or North Africa.