Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered aircraft to attempt to fly around the world non-stop, will cross over India in March, said Aditya Birla group, which is supporting the effort from India.
“Solar Impulse was built not just to fly around the world without a drop of fuel, but also to carry a message; demonstrating the effectiveness of clean technologies and the importance of sustainability, and showing what can be accomplished with pioneering spirit,” the Indian group said.
The Solar Impulse is a single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber and has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car. It has over 17’000 solar cells and four lithium batteries to enable the craft to fly day and night.
Solar Impulse is the brainchild of pilots and founders Bertrand Piccard (Initiator and Chairman) and André Borschberg (CEO). A psychiatrist and explorer, Bertrand Piccard flew around the world in a hot-air balloon in 1999; and the design team is led by André Borschberg, seasoned flight design engineer, entrepreneur and former Swiss fighter pilot.
This team of leading-edge specialists includes mechanical engineers, aeronautical engineers, physicists and designers who have been working for over a decade to bring Solar Impulse from drawing board to reality. The electrical engineers have risen to the challenge of achieving the delicate balance between maximum efficiency, the lightest possible weight and extreme reliability of the plane’s photovoltaic cells.
The Aditya Birla Group will be the host partner for the India leg of the Solar Impulse journey, with stops planned in Ahmedabad and Varanasi and will partner with the Solar Impulse Main Sponsors Solvay, ABB, Schindler and Omega to offer ground support to the world record attempt. It is expected that millions of people will follow the flight via social media. The sponsors, like the founders, hope the flight will change history.