A plane designed to carry out the first solar-powered flight around the world in 2015, has successfully completed its maiden flight.
Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), a single-seater solar-powered aircraft created by psychiatrist and explorer Bertrand Piccard and engineer and entrepreneur André Borschberg, carried out its first flight out of the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland this morning.
Professional test pilot Marcus Scherdel flew the aircraft for just over two-and-a-quarter hours and reaching an altitude of 1,670 metres (5,500ft) and an average ground speed of 55.6 km/h. The team behind the project reported that the initial results are in line with their calculations and simulations.
“This inaugural flight is an important stage – a step closer towards the round-the-world flight,” said Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot.
“It is also a huge emotional step for the entire team and all our partners who have worked on the aircraft. Si2 incorporates a vast amount of new technology to render it more efficient, reliable and in particular better adapted to long haul flights. It is the first aircraft which will have almost unlimited endurance.”
The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft was unveiled by Borschberg and Piccard in April. Last year the pair flew their prototype plane Solar Impulse across the USA to prove the concept.
“Throughout such an innovative project, each stage is a leap into the unknown. Today suspense was at a high! The results show that our team of engineers can be very proud of the work it has accomplished during the last 10 years,” added Piccard, Solar Impulse co-founder, president and pilot.
There will be several other flights taking place in the coming months to allow the experimental machine to attain certification, according to the team.