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Solar Impulse: Around The World In Zero-Fuel Airplane

Solar Impulse - Stephanie Booth / Flickr CC BY NC SA 2.0

9 March 2015 – The first ever flight around the world with a zero-fuel airplane has been launched in Abu Dhabi today. With this innovative project, Solar Impulse intends to achieve the first round-the-world solar flight to demonstrate how existing clean technologies and a pioneering spirit can change the world. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) supports Solar Impulse and underlines the attempt will demonstrate how a new low-carbon economy is not only needed, but also possible. 

The historic round-the-world solar flight comes following over a decade of research, tests, and development. Using only solar energy and clean technology, pioneers Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO) will take turns flying the single-seater aircraft, starting from Abu Dhabi for the first of 12 flights spread over a period of five months.

"With Solar Impulse, we want to demonstrate how clean technologies can simultaneously protect the environment and create job and profit opportunities, bringing more energy-efficient products on the market," the Swiss-born duo said in a joint statement.

Revolutionary Technology

The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) is a revolutionary single-seater aircraft made of carbon fibre. It has a 72-meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747-8I) and weighs just 2,300 kg – the equivalent to that of a car.

Additionally, the Si2 is equipped with 17,000 solar cells built into the wing and is thus the only aircraft able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel.

The Si2 Round-The-World flight is taking-off from the Abu Dhabi (UAE), this month and return by late July 2015. The route includes stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; and Chongqing and Nanjing, China.

After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, Si2 will fly across the U.S.A. stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest, and New York City at JFK. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the final legs include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before completing the Round-The-World flight at its final destination in Abu Dhabi.

Harness the power of multilateralism

The Solar Impulse Project has received the support from many international companies and organisations, including the United Nations. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon wished the pioneers "every success on their historic attempt". 

"We take inspiration from their example and efforts to harness the power of multilateralism to address climate change and to inspire the world to achieve sustainable development through innovating sustainable energy and renewable energy", Mr Ban added.

"With their daring and determination, we can all fly into a new sustainable future."

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