One of the few solar powered planes, the Solar Impulse 2 has lifted off in Switzerland. Of course the name indicates that this is a larger and advanced version of the plane and has been seen as a vehicle that pushes the boundaries for alternative energy. The previous Solar Impulse aircraft flew across America last year with adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg at the controls.
As expected, the plane had to pass several system tests before it went airborne and the inaugural flight, test pilot Markus Scherdel was in the cockpit when the plane took off shortly after 03:35 GMT. The video below is a tour that was given to the BBC of the plane.
On the technological stand point, the plan was made in such away that the tops of the wings are covered by 17,000 solar cells, which drive four brushless electric motors at speeds of up to 140km/h (90mph).
Last year, first Solar Impulse plane set a number of world records, including
- the longest manned solar-powered flight at 26 hours,
- the first inter-continental flight in a solar-powered plane,
- the greatest distance covered on a piloted solar-powered flight, drones do not count.
According to the BBC, that last record was set during Piccard’s and Borschberg’s epic TransAmerica journey in May, June and July last year.