Solar Impulse 2 touched down at Chongqing in China around 17:30 GMT on Tuesday, after taking off from Myanmar’s second biggest city Mandalay, close to 20 hours back. The fuel-free plane was initially supposed to make a brief stop at Chongqing before heading to Nanjing which lies in the eastern part of the country. But weather concerns have forced the team to stay put for a few days.
The fifth leg of the journey saw the plane cover a distance of 1,375 km. The plane was asked to delay its landing at the Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport due to pressure of commercial traffic. The pilots battled extreme cold conditions of as low as -20 degree Celsius in the cockpit as they flew over the mountainous Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan.
Updated on March 12: Swiss aeronaut Piccard piloted the single seater solar impulse 2 (Si 2) aero plane which landed at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad late on Tuesday night, thus completing the second leg of its journey from Oman to Ahmedabad.
The second leg of the journey was not entirely uneventful as the airplane faced turbulence and air traffic, which delayed its arrival by more than 45 minutes. It may be recalled that in the first leg of the journey the aircraft had taken off from Abu Dhabi on 9th March, 2015
The aircraft has another 10 legs over the course of next five months. In the next or the third leg the aero plane will take off for Varanasi after four days.
Updated on March 10: Solar Impulse II, after a quick pit stop of 11 hours at Oman, is all set for the second leg of its round the world journey. The flight is expected to reach Ahmedabad today evening. Ahmedabad will witness clear sky conditions with a bright and sunny day. The exact timing of the flight is difficult to be assessed since it is mostly dependent on the weather conditions. The solar plane will remain in Ahmedabad for the next four days to showcase the power of clean technologies. There will also be a demonstration on how the world can function on low carbon growth path by simply harnessing solar energy. After the four day stop in Ahmedabad, the aircraft's next stop will be in Varanasi, before it takes off to Myanmar. However, thunderstorms are expected in Varanasi on March 13, 14 and 15, which may result in delay of the aircraft’s arrival in Varanasi. Solar Impulse II will cover a distance of 35,000 kms across the world in 25 days over a period of 5 months. Not even a drop of fuel will be used to fly the aircraft.
Updated on March 5 Solar Impulse 2, which weighs as much as a car at 2,300kg, is all set to start its trip in a few days, making stopovers at Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, after taking off from Abu Dhabi. The probable launch is on March 8, but it all depends upon on weather conditions. If it does take off on 8th March then it will have no problem in landing at Ahmadabad as weather will be partly cloudy with maximum around 31°C minimum hovering around 17°C. It will make a halt of four days & then fly to Varanasi. From Varanasi, it will fly to Mandalay in Myanmar and Chongqing in China before reaching the US.
The pilots insist that it is matter of coincidence & not politics, that it is first landing in Ahmadabad-city of Narendra Modi & then makes a stop at Varanasi-constituency of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha.
The $150m project took 12 years of feasibility studies, design and construction.While the Solar Impulse 2 was put together in Payerne in Switzerland, its crew comprising 80 technicians and engineers are camping in Abu Dhabi since January.
They insist that goal is not to transport passengers. The Wright brothers too did not have the technology to fly passengers. The idea is to use modern technology to reduce the energy lost by use of old technologies.
The aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, is led by two Swiss nationals psychiatrist and balloonist Bertrand Piccard as well as businessman Andre Borschberg. A bunch of multinational cooperations including Solvay, Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Schindler, ABB, Omega, Bayer and Swiss RE, Swisscom have funded the venture. The aircraft has a wing span of 72 metres & is a little wider than that of a Boeing 747. The weight of the aircraft is as much as of a car. It is powered by 17,248 mono silicon PV cells which are capable of generating 260 kWh a day. Lithium ion batteries have been used to store energy which will help in powering the night flights. The Solar Impulse has a larger cockpit than the first plane, but it can only accommodate one pilot. Thus the pilots will be responsible for the flight on an alternate basis. The maximum speed at which the aircraft is capable of flying is 100 km an hour. The preferred flying altitude is 8,500 metres. The aircraft also has day and night flying capabilities. The aircraft will start from Abu Dhabi, the first stop being Muscat in Oman. It will further fly across the Arabian Sea to make a pit stop at Ahmedabad and Varanasi from where ABB India will accompany Solar Impulse 2 and its crew on its journey. Other stops include Mandalay in Myanmar, Chongqing and Nanjing in China. The aircraft will then fly across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and Phoenix in the United States and will also stop at New York. Finally, after flying across the Atlantic Ocean it will make a stoppage in Southern Europe and then fly back to Abu Dhabi in August. During this tour, Solar Impulse 2 will fly for over 100 hours continuously, four times. The Swiss nationals have chosen the best possible season for their journey keeping all the weather extremities in mind & have chosen the period of least adverse weather e.g. while flying on its Asian route, neither monsoon rains nor summer thunderstorms will affect the flight. Even Western Disturbances will be conspicuous by their absence.
Their main aim is to provide a solar powered mission. Also, through the journey they want to draw attention towards the possibility of clean energy.