A new solar-powered aircraft is being shown off called the Solar Impulse 2 that plans to make a flight that will take it around the globe. The aircraft was unveiled on April 9 in Switzerland. Pilots of the aircraft’s circumnavigation of the Earth using no fuel will be Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. Solar Impulse 2 will be used to fly around the globe in 2015.
The aircraft has a massive wingspan and the wings are covered in solar panels. Solar Impulse 2 is able to fly during the day and during the night without needing fuel onboard. Power comes from solar panels on the wings and is stored in batteries during the day to allow the aircraft to keep flying at night.
Preparations for the flight around the world have seen the aircraft batteries tweaked and new materials were used to lighten the aircraft making it more efficient. Wingspan for the Solar Impulse 2 is 236-feet making it longer than a Boeing 747. The wings have 17,000 solar panels covering them that are used to charge the batteries and power systems in the aircraft.
A larger cockpit with better ergonomics will help the two pilots remain comfortable as they make the five-day flight around the world. Solar Impulse 2 won’t be flying non-stop around the world. The aircraft will land every few days to change pilots and participate in outreach events at schools and with governments. Solar Impulse 2 will take off in the gulf region and fly over the Arabian Sea, China, the Pacific Ocean, US, and Atlantic Ocean along with Southern Europe or North Africa.