Unfavorable weather conditions have threatened the pacific crossing of Solar Impulse 2. The long range experimental solar powered aircraft is currently in a holding pattern over the Sea of Japan. As per experts, bad weather conditions are likely over the next few days and this may stop the aircraft from completing its most challenging leg of the journey.
Solar Impulse 2 took off on March 9 this year from Abu Dhabi. The plane travelled over 7000 kms visiting Muscat, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Myanmar, Chongqing, and Nanjing. Cloudy weather delayed its departure from Ahmedabad earlier in the year. On Sunday, Solar Impulse 2 took off from Nanjing, China to commence an 8,000 km long journey across the Pacific Ocean. But poor weather conditions stalled the plane’s challenging voyage across the Pacific.
If and when Solar Impulse 2 sets off for Hawaii in US, it will fly non-stop for six days and nights. A few airports were identified in Japan, in order to accommodate an emergency landing, in case of a serious technical failure. But beyond Japan, the plane will have no surface for an emergency landing. If things go wrong, on board pilots Piccard and Borschberg will have to parachute their way down into open waters, hundreds of miles away from rescue. No sea vessel is following the plane as it won’t be able to keep up with the plane which can touch a speed of 140 kmph.
May onwards, conditions in the Pacific aren’t really favorable for aviation expeditions. The seas in particular remain turbulent, and thus it becomes highly dangerous and difficult for any aircraft to complete a safe flight. Solar Impulse 2 may have to wait a while before it commences its most challenging leg of the journey. After reaching US, the plane will then fly back to Abu Dhabi, after making a stop in Africa. It is interesting to note that Solar Impulse 2 was initially mocked at by the aviation industry. But today, it stands tall as a prime example of green energy driven aircraft and equipment. Also, it broadens the prospect of solar power-driven air travel in future.
(Featured Image Credit: solarracing.org)