Solar-powered aircraft lands in Spain after 17-hour flightPublished On: Sun, Jul 8th, 2012 | Physics | By BioNews
A plane, which was exclusively using the sun’s energy, has touched down in Spain after a 17-hour flight.
The Solar Impulse took off from Rabat in Morocco and was on its return trip to Switzerland, News.com.au reported.
It had been scheduled to reach Madrid in the wee hours last Tuesday, but a sudden change in the weather kept it from taking off from Rabat.
The aircraft only weighs 1600 kilos, though it has the same wingspan as an Airbus, which makes it very dependent on winds and air currents.
The prototype, created by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, reached Madrid-Barajas before midnight, but was unable to land for several hours so as not to interfere with the ordinary operations on the runways.
Piccard and Borschberg began this adventure seven years ago and made the first trial flight in 2009. A year later, the Solar Impulse made its first real flight and was able to remain in the air day and night for 26 hours without any kind of fuel.
The 12,000 photovoltaic cells that cover its wings absorb solar energy and transfer it to the aircraft’s four batteries, which allow it to fly for up to five hours.