10 Mar 2015

Piccard's Record Attempt in the Second Leg of the Around the World in a Solar Aircraft Mission

Bertrand Piccard took off this morning at 6:35 UTC+4 from Muscat, Oman, onboard Solar Impulse 2. Before starting his journey to Ahmedabad, India, he revealed that he would attempt to break the FAI world record of Distance in the Experimental / New Technologies, Solar-Powered Aeroplane category.

He would thus break the record established by Solar Impulse's co-founder André Borschberg in 2013, during the Across America Mission leg from Phoenix to Dallas. Over the years the FAI has ratified a series of Solar Impulse world records, all broken by Borschberg. This record would thus be the first claimed by Piccard in command of the zero-fueled airplane (see list of records below).

Piccard is now flying the new version of the aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, which was presented to the public last year. It is wider and more resistant than the previous prototype Solar Impulse HB-SIA.

The Around the World in a Solar Airplane Mission started yesterday, when Borschberg successfully flew from Abu Dhabi, UAE, to Muscat, Oman. On their journey, Piccard and Borschberg will alternatively pilot Solar Impulse. The two aviators have agreed that while Borschberg would be the pilot of the first flight, Piccard would fly the final leg back to Abu Dhabi. 

The FAI wishes them good luck on their fantastic journey !

Solar Impulse 2

The single-seater solar aircraft has a wingspan of 72 meters for its weight of just 2,300 Kg , producing an exceptional aerodynamic performance and energy efficiency. There is a 3.8 m3 cockpit, every detail of which has been designed for a pilot to live there for a week. However, for the sake of maximum energy efficiency, the cabin is not pressurized or heated – a further endurance challenge for the pilot.

Technical datasheet

  • Batteries energy density: 4 x 260 Wh/kg
  • Airplane Weight: 2,3 tons
  • Wingspan: 72 meter (236')
  • Solar Cells Thickness: 135 micron
  • Solar Cells: > 17,000
  • Cockpit Size: 3.8 m3

Solar Impulse world records

Since 2010, the FAI ratified 8 world records achieved by André Borschberg onboard Solar Impulse: in 2010, he broke 3 records with a flight from Payerne, Switzerland; in 2012, 2 records were ratified following a flight from Payerne to Madrid; in 2013, 3 more records were broken during the Phoenix (Arizona) to Dallas (Texas) leg of the Across America Mission.

CSAbsolute altitude9235 m2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16042
CSDuration26 h 10 m 19 s2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16044
CSGain of height8744 m2010-07-08André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16043
CSFree Distance along a course1116 km2012-05-25André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16560
CSStraight distance, pre-declared waypoints1099.3 km2012-05-25André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - superseded since approved16558
CSDistance along a course, pre-declared waypoints1487.6 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16816
CSFree Distance1506.5 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16817
CSStraight distance, pre-declared waypoints1386.5 km2013-05-23André Borschberg (SUI)ratified - current record16815

(photo credit: Solar Impulse)