[Avionics Today 07-02-2015] The Solar Impulse 2, a completely solar powered aircraft currently attempting an all-solar around-the-world flight has broken several world records in the attempt, including all distance and duration records for solar aviation. Most recently, with co-founder, CEO and pilot André Borschberg at the controls, the aircraft has also broken the record for the longest solo flight ever by remaining airborne for three consecutive days and nights, producing its own power with solar energy.
|Solar Impulse 2 during its round-the-world flight. Photo: Solar Impulse
By flying above the Pacific Ocean for over 80 hours the aircraft is currently also achieving the longest non-stop solo flight without refueling in terms of duration on its flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii. This accomplishment exceeds the American Adventurer Steve Fossett's flight on board Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, who, in 2006, realized a 76-hour non-stop flight to circumnavigate the globe. Solar Impulse 2 has so far accomplished 73 percent of its flight to Hawaii and is intended to fly approximately 120 hours in total before landing in Honolulu.
Despite the achievements, Borschberg is enduring human, technical and operational challenges, navigating the high tech flying laboratory alone in an unheated and unpressurized cockpit.
"The first 24 hours were very technical,” said Borschberg. “But the second day was really getting me into the mission. It took me a while to create a relationship of trust with the airplane, which allows me to rest and eventually sleep by periods of 20 minutes with the autopilot. The experience of flight is so intense that I can only focus on the present moment and discover how to deal with my own energy and mindset."
If Borschberg’s flight is successful, the aircraft will continue its ocean crossing to Phoenix, Ariz., across the U.S., the Atlantic and back to Abu Dhabi where the journey started in March of this year.