So­lar plane starts next round-the-world leg

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

A pi­o­neer­ing plane at­tempt­ing to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the globe pow­ered only by the sun took off from main­land China early Tues­day for the next stage of its jour­ney, or­ga­niz­ers said.

The So­lar Im­pulse 2’ s de­par­ture from Chongqing came af­ter re­peated me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal de­lays and one of its co- pi­lots re­turned to Europe to be treated for mi­graine.

With pi­lot Ber­trand Pic­card at the con­trols, the plane took off at 6:08 a.m. (2208 GMT Mon­day), head­ing for the eastern city of Nan­jing, or­ga­niz­ers said in a state­ment. The 1,190 kilo­me­ter flight was ex­pected to take 20 hours.

The So­lar Im­pulse 2 ar­rived at Chongqing air­port from Myan­mar on March 31.

It had been due to make a brief stop in the south­west­ern main­land city and quickly travel on to Nan­jing, but was held up by weather and safety con­cerns.

Chongqing, on the Yangtze river, is no­to­ri­ously foggy but So­lar Im­pulse 2 spokesman Marc Baum­garten said the ini­tial de­lay was due to “cross winds which are cov­er­ing the en­tire coun­try.”

An­other de­par­ture at­tempt on April 16 was foiled “due to a nar­row win­dow for the land­ing in Nan­jing,” ac­cord­ing to an up­date last week on the so­lar plane’s Twit­ter ac­count.

One of the co- pi­lots, An­dre Borschberg, is also be­ing treated in Switzer­land for mi­graine prob­lems.

“It was nec­es­sary for me to achieve de­tach­ment, to take a break in or­der to en­sure the fu­ture of the project,” Borschberg wrote in a Twit­ter up­date Mon­day.

The team be­hind So­lar Im­pulse 2, which has more than 17,000 so­lar cells built into its wings, hopes to pro­mote green en­ergy with its round the world at­tempt.

The plane is the suc­ces­sor of So­lar Im­pulse, which notched up a 26- hour flight in 2010, prov­ing its abil­ity to store enough power in lithium bat­ter­ies dur­ing the day to keep fly­ing at night.

On a pre­vi­ous cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion, Pic­card passed over the main­land in a spe­cially de­signed bal­loon, but only af­ter he per­son­ally ne­go­ti­ated con­di­tions re­quir­ing the craft to avoid large swathes of the coun­try.

Ridiculed by the avi­a­tion in­dus­try when it was first un­veiled, the So­lar Im­pulse ven­ture has since been hailed around the world, in­clud­ing by U. N. chief Ban Ki- moon.

The plane’s maiden global cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion be­gan in Abu Dhabi and is sched­uled to take in 12 stops, with a to­tal flight time of around 25 days spread over five months.

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