The Solar Impulse aircraft has landed at New York’s JFK airport, having completed its striking journey over the US. This is the first time that a solar-powered airplane able to flying in both day and night has tried to travel over the US.
The landing completes the ultimate leg of that Solar Impulse’s over America transcontinental bid, which begun in May.
Earlier in its path, the Solar Impulse plane broke the distance record for solar-powered travel by staying in the air for the full 18 hours.
2012, the Solar Impulse plane became the initial solar-powered craft to finish an inter-continental flight.
The record-breaking plane was planned and created by project co-founders (and Impulse co-pilots) Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The friends expect to extol the virtues of renewable power with their invention.
Piccard and Borshberg are also after the ‘Clean Generation’ initiative, that’s an effort to encourage businesses and governments to improve and adopt sustainable energy resources.
The solar impulse HB-SIA has the identical wingspan as an A340 Airbus, but weighs only 1.6 tonnes (by comparison an A340 weighs, on average, around 370 tonnes). The Impulse’s wing and stabiliser are roofed with some 12,000 solar cells, these make 4 propellers and fully charge the lithium-ion for nighttime flying. The craft has a high speed of 70 kph (45mph) and a maximum cruising altitude of 8,500m (28,000ft).
Piccard and Borshberg say that their subsequent step is to try a journey round the world, which they hope will start in 2015. However, so they can realize this, the pair must develop an even bigger plane, the HB SIB.
US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, was present to greet the craft, saying,
“If you examine the Department of Energy’s research programmes and technology visions, it includes many of this same kind of technology progress that these gentlemen have developed in an integrated technique to accomplish something that would not have been thought of a few years ago (…) I feel in 10 years we’re going to see the fruits of most of these technology changing the world.”
In spite of a rip in the wing, which resulted in the pair to cancel their proposed Statue of Liberty fly by, the Solar Impulse plane succeeded in its goals. The craft has broken records, encouraged improved thought into renewable power and showed to become a triumphant invention. Solar powered passenger jets may yet be a long way off, however the Solar Impulse plane proves the tech is getting there.