Solar Impulse's CEO and pilot Andre Borschberg steers the solar-powered HB-SIA prototype during a test flight at Payerne airport in April.

Solar Impulse plane takes off for first international flight

A plane powered by solar energy has taken off for its first international flight.

Solar Impulse, the team behind the project, plans to fly the aircraft to Belgium and France.

The single-seater prototype, piloted by André Borschberg, will take off from Payerne airfield in Switzerland and climb to an altitude of 3600 meters. The plane will head for France, pass over Luxembourg and land at Brussels Airport (Zaventem).

Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at 6.40am and is expected to reach Brussels airport by nightfall.

The plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 777 made its 2009 maiden flight in Switzerland and further tests have all taken place there.

The flight across France, Luxembourg and Belgium poses a fresh challenge as it requires navigation across international air traffic networks.

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