Solar-powered plane lands in Spain after 3-day Atlantic crossing

The experimental Solar Impulse 2 plane has wings wider than those of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Picture: AP
The experimental Solar Impulse 2 plane has wings wider than those of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Picture: AP
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An experimental solar- powered plane has landed in Spain, completing an unprecedented three-day flight across the Atlantic on the latest leg of its globe-circling journey.

The Solar Impulse 2 landed in Seville in southern Spain yesterday, ending a 71-hour flight which began in New York City on Monday.

It was the first time a
solar-powered plane has made such a journey using zero fuel and produced zero emissions, organisers said.

Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis aircraft was the first to make the solo crossing.

Organisers said the aircraft had flown 4,204 miles at a maximum height of 28,000 feet and average speed of 59mph. It was the 15th leg of a planned around-the-world flight which began in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi.

The wings of Solar Impulse 2, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells which power
propellers and charge
batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.

The flight was piloted by Swiss men Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

Mr Borschberg said: “Initially the aviation
industry told us it was
impossible to build such an airplane, but we believed we could do it thanks to all our partners’ technologies.”

Mr Piccard spoke to a crowd of well-wishers at Seville’s
airport. “The Atlantic has always been this symbol of going from the Old World to the New,” he told them.

“Everybody has tried to cross the Atlantic, with sailboats, steamboats, airships, aeroplanes, even rowing boats and kitesurfs. Today, it’s a solar-powered aeroplane for the first time ever, flying electric with no fuel and no pollution.”

Solar Impulse has moved rapidly around the Earth since renewing its challenge in Hawaii on 21 April.

In 2015, the plane flew eight stages from Abu Dhabi to Kalaeloa, including a
remarkable four-day, 21-hour leg over the western Pacific – the longest solo flight in
aviation history.

But it was damage to its
batteries on that stage that forced Solar Impulse to lay up for ten months for repairs and wait for
optimum daylight length in the northern hemisphere to return.

The organisers said the mission will continue to Abu Dhabi. It said the project showed that “exploration and pioneering are no longer about conquering new territories, but exploring new ways to have a better quality of life on earth”.