Abu Dhabi: Two Swiss pilots will attempt to take their solar-powered aircraft around the globe, to demonstrate the promise of clean energy and would stop over at India also, among various countries, during the flight.
Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will take off from Abu Dhabi in February-end or early March for what would be the first round-the-world flight without using a drop of fuel and their journey would take them to Ahmedabad and Varanasi in India.
Their aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), will fly 35,000 km day and night at speeds of between 50 and 100 kmh in a journey over 25 days.
The cockpit will be unpressurised with only one seat for one pilot, adding to the challenge of the endeavour.
According to the flight details unveiled at a function here Tuesday, there will be 12 stops en route, which, apart from the two stops in India will also include those at Muscat (Oman), Mandalay (Myanmar), and Chongqing and Nanjing (China).
After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, the Si2 will fly across the US mainland, stopping in Phoenix and New York City.
A third stopover in the Midwest will be decided according to weather conditions. After crossing the Atlantic, the final legs include a stop in southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi.
Said Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse: "With our attempt to complete the first solar powered round-the-world flight, we want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible."
During the stopovers, the Solar Impulse team will organise meetings, airplane visits and Google Hangouts in order to promote the mission's message and highlight innovative technical solutions to climate change. In doing so, Solar Impulse hopes to foster an interest in clean energy amongst youth, industry professionals and government representatives seeking to implement ambitious energy policies.
“We want youth, leaders, organisations and policymakers 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 added.
The daring venture is supported by Masdar, the UAE's pioneering initiative towards clean energy, and some private companies including Solvay, Omega, Schindler, ABB, Altran, Bayer, Google, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Swisscom.
Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, said: "Masdar and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi are proud to host the departure, and hopefully (the) safe arrival of Solar Impulse and its pilots, as they dare to fly round the world using only the power of the sun."
"Solar Impulse is a demonstration to prove the impossible can be possible, and that innovation knows no boundaries. As a leader delivering sophisticated renewable energy projects around the world, Masdar is a natural partner for such an innovative endeavour, which underscores the viability of solar technology," he added.
Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO, said, "Solar Impulse is not the first solar airplane, however it is the first able to cross oceans and continents, remaining in the air for several days and nights in a row without landing. But now we have to ensure the sustainability of the pilot in order to complete the route; Solar Impulse 2 must accomplish what no other plane in the history of aviation has achieved, flying without fuel for 5 consecutive days and nights with only one pilot in the unpressurised cockpit."
Ahead of the adventure, the Si2 team and pilots will spread their message in Abu Dhabi, engaging with industry representatives, youth and aspiring engineering students.