Solar-powered plane on world tour to land in India today

  • Vanita Srivastava and Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2015 12:25 IST

The world’s only solar powered single-seater aircraft, the Solar Impulse (Si2) that is flying on its maiden global journey, will make a stop in Ahmedabad, India, on Tuesday in the second leg of its journey.

It will make another stop in Varansi, Uttar Pradesh, where it will hover over river Ganga to spread a message of cleanliness and clean energy.

The plane set off from Abu Dhabi on Monday and 13 hours and two minutes later landed in Muscat after nightfall, completing its first leg of journey.

The Swiss aircraft’s flight got delayed by a day due to bad weather conditions in the UAE. The aircraft was scheduled to land in Ahmedabad on Monday, a release said.

After landing in Ahmedabad, the aircraft's founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will stay in the city for a couple of days before leaving for Varanasi on Sunday.

“The pit stops and longer stays have been pre­determined but are subject to weather and technical issues,” said an official spokesperson.

During their stay in Ahmedabad, the pilots will meet a range of people including the top officials in the government, NGOs and university to discuss and spread the message of clean energy and technology.

"We want youth, leaders, organisations and policy makers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish here on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet's natural resources," Piccard was quoted as saying in the release.

The pilots have undergone intensive training in preparation for the trip, including in yoga and self-hypnosis, allowing them to sleep for periods as short as 20 minutes but to wake up feeling refreshed, organisers said.

The single-seater aircraft is made of carbon fibre, has a 72-metre wingspan which is larger than that of Boeing-747 and weighs just 2,300kg, that’s equivalent of a car. The aircraft has 17,248 solar cells built into the wings that supply the electric motors with renewable energy.

The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries of 633 kg each that allow the aircraft to fly at night also.

According to the official website, this round-the-world flight will take-off from Abu Dhabi and make a halt at Muscat (Oman), Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Myanmar and Chongqing and Nanjing in China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, the aircraft will fly across the US stopping at Phoenix, the Midwest and New York City.

In 2013, the test flight of the aircraft was conducted in the US.

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Solar aircraft on historic round-the-world journey lands in Ahmedabad
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