A record breaking attempt is underway to fly a plane, powered solely by solar power, around the world in what is expected to take approximately 5 months. Pilot, and corporate speaker, Bertrand Piccard will share duties with Andre Borschberg.
The plane receives its power from 17,000 solar panels that cover the plane’s 72 metre wingspan. Along with powering the plane some of the energy is stored in lithium ion batteries to ensure it can get through the night; the fact that so little energy is used to power it, along with it weighing about as much as a family car will assist in this mammoth journey.
They will stop at various points across the globe to switch pilot duties (as the plane is a single seater) and carry our any maintenance. The biggest challenge will come when they fly across the longest leg of the journey which is across the Pacific. The team expect it to take 5 days so the pilot will have to take 20 minute naps – much in the same way a sailor does when sailing around the world. This will have to be done in very cramped conditions measuring 3.8 cubic metres.
Weather will dictate the length of stops and the pilots and the team are prepared for bailing out over water and surviving in the sea until they can be picked up by a passing ship.
The project highlights the need to move away from fossil fuels and highlight the sustainability of solar power. Forecasters predict that it will be able to compete on price with gas and electricity in the next few years.
Their journey can be followed by vising their Twitter page, @solarimpulse
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016