Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), the solar-powered plane attempting to become the first aircraft in the world to circumnavigate the Earth without using a drop of fossil fuel, will complete its epic journey in the early hours of Tuesday morning, returning to the city where its adventure began in March last year.
The iconic aircraft’s arrival in the UAE capital will mark the triumphant conclusion of a voyage that has taken in sixteen stops around the world, including a number of countries where the investment of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar is already pushing the boundaries of clean technology, extending access to sustainable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Masdar is the official host partner of Solar Impulse 2.
Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman Bertrand Piccard is piloting Si2 on the last leg of its round-the-world trip from Cairo, bringing full circle an adventure that began when André Borschberg, CEO and Co-Founder, departed Abu Dhabi in March 2015. Both men have taken the controls of the aircraft during its pioneering flight.
Anticipation is building across the UAE, with a welcoming committee of UAE and international dignitaries expected to receive Solar Impulse 2 at around 04:00 Tuesday morning, at Al Bateen Executive Airport.
“To have flown more than 40,000 kilometres powered only by the sun shows that solar energy has truly arrived as a viable technology, and has significant potential for wider development,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Masdar. “Solar Impulse 2’s arrival in Abu Dhabi will be an emotional moment for the Solar Impulse team and a proud occasion for the people of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. Our shared commitment to the realisation of a more sustainable future will inspire continued innovation in clean technology and renewable energy long after the Si2’s final flight.”
“Solar Impulse will stand forever as a tribute to human ingenuity and our capacity to work together to solve common challenges,” Al Ramahi said.
Over its entire mission, Solar Impulse 2 has completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at altitudes of up to 9,000 metres and at an average speed of between 45km/h and 90km/h.
A total of 19 world records have been set, or are still pending with the World Air Sports Federation (FAI). These include André Borschberg’s feat of flying for five consecutive days and nights over the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii, the longest flight duration achieved by any type of aircraft flying solo, and Betrand Piccard’s historic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, the first by a solar-powered airplane.
Solar Impulse Initiator, Chairman and Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard said: “Solar Impulse has demonstrated that modern clean technologies can achieve things that were considered impossible a few years ago. Our mission now is to continue to motivate people, corporations and governments to use these same solutions on the ground wherever they make sense – for mobility, construction, lighting, heating, cooling and other uses – to improve the quality of life on Earth.”
Solar Impulse CEO, Co-Founder and fellow pilot André Borschberg said: “By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient. It’s not a question of whether it’s possible; it’s only a question of implementation. Solar Impulse is like a flying smart grid: producing, storing and distributing energy in an efficient way. If we can make it work on an airplane, we can make it work in our cities and communities.”
Hasan Al Redaini, the UAE representative escorting Solar Impulse 2 on its round-the-world trip, added: “Abu Dhabi has been a natural partner of the Solar Impulse project, which has captured the imagination of millions people and shed new light on renewable energy as a viable technology.”
Si 2 began its epic journey from Abu Dhabi in March 2015, with sixteen stopovers along the way in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Egypt.