In a first, the Solar Impulse 2 has completed a round-the-world trip without a drop of fuel. The solar-powered plane reached Abu Dhabi early on Tuesday, 26 July, after completing its more than a year- long voyage, covering a distance of 40,000km.
Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss adventure lover and co-pilot of Solar Impulse 2, steered the plane during its final leg from the Egyptian capital Cairo to Abu Dhabi in the UAE, where the journey began on 9 March, 2015. Earlier, his Swiss compatriot Andre Borschberg piloted the plane on the penultimate leg of the historic journey to Cairo from Seville, Spain.
Piccard and Borschber, who have been working on the Solar Impulse project for more than a decade, received a rousing welcome at the hangar where the plane docked after completing its 17-stage journey over four continents, three seas and two oceans. "The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further,'' Piccard told the crowd gathered to cheer his arrival.
The light-weight solar-powered aircraft has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and is powered by 17,000 solar cells. The cockpit is about the size of a public telephone box and the pilots need to use oxygen tanks to breathe at high altitude. The circumnavigation project was undertaken by the team to promote clean energy.
The successful completion of the voyage without using any fossil fuel has set a new benchmark in the world. Addressing a press conference at Abu Dhabi upon his arrival, Piccard said: "Why don't we dream more? Why don't we try more? When you see the results today, it's because our team dreamed. A lot is starting today. A lot is possible because we have dared to fail, when you dare to fail you can succeed."
Prince Albert of Monaco, who too was present at the press conference said: "Glad to be back in Abu Dhabi. This is not the end of the journey, this is just the beginning for clean energy. This is a historic day for aviation and clean energy. It is up to us and future generations to carry this forward."