Solar Impulse 2 flight
Solar Impulse plane embarks on historic flight across globe without drop of fuelReuters file photo

A solar-powered plane has begun an epic round-the-world journey from Abu Dhabi in an attempt to create more awareness about cleaner energies.

Propelled only by the sun, the Solar Impulse 2 is flying without using a single drop of fuel.

On the first leg of its five-month record-breaking journey, the plane is heading to the Omani capital Muscat, where it will make its first stop after a 10-hour flight.

The Swiss-engineered single-seater, weighing about 2.3 tonnes, will be piloted by Solar Impulse founder André Borschberg, who will take turns with co-founder Bertrand Piccard during stopovers.

The 35,000km stretch, which includes arduous flying over the Atlantic and the Pacific, will be covered in 12 legs over 500 flight hours. The plane will be cruising for nearly five or six days in some sections.

To conserve battery life, the aircraft will be flying at lesser speeds at nights while the maximum speed will be 87 mph (140 kph).

Just before take-off, Borschberg told the BBC: "I am confident we have a very special aeroplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans.

"We may have to fly for five days and five nights to do that, and it will be a challenge. But we have the next two months, as we fly the legs to China, to train and prepare ourselves."

A special team comprising 65 traffic controllers and weathermen is in Monaco to coordinate the flight, which is expected to end in July.

Solar Impulse 2 flight
Diagram of the Solar Impulse, a solar powered plane which is attempting the world's first round-the-world flight of its kindReuters