Solar Impulse 2 took off before dawn on Tuesday for the sixth leg of a round-the-world journey promoting renewable energy, after a three-week stop-over in the western city of Chongqing due to bad weather.
The zero-fuel airplane rose from the runway at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on an estimated 17-hour, 1,190-km flight to the city of Nanjing, organisers wrote in an online statement.
Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard was flying the ultralight, ultra-efficient craft at 3,300 feet, and will not go above 12,000 feet during this leg because of crosswinds and clouds at higher altitudes, organisers said.
Piccard's partner in the 150-million-dollar Solar Impulse effort, Andre Borschberg, had been scheduled to pilot the single-seater plane to Nanjing but instead went back to Switzerland to make sure he is fully operational for our big challenge the Pacific, Picard tweeted.
Borschberg was reportedly suffering from migraine symptoms and a skin condition.
Piccard elected to do both Chinese stages as Borschberg, the engineer of the partnership, wants to do the five-day, five-night crossing to Hawaii.
The team are now expected to stop in Nanjing for at least 10 days, checking over the aircraft and running through a training programme ahead of the first Pacific leg.
Solar Impulse 2 is expected to arrive back in Abu Dhabi in August after its epic five-month voyage.
The globe-trotting Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) landed at Muscat International Airport on Monday evening, touching down silently on the runway following a trouble-free 12 hour first leg flight from Abu Dhabi, UAE, Oman News Agency reported.
Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andr Borschberg emerged from the flyer to be greeted by a welcoming reception presided over by Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al-Said, Advisor to His Majesty the Sultan, Dr. Mohammed bin Nasser al-Za'abi, CEO of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), and Sheikh Aiman bin Ahmed al-Hosni, General Manager of Muscat International Airport.
The landing marks the completion of the first leg of the global circumnavigation for the innovative solar-powered aircraft. Piloted in turns by Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg, the Solar Impulse is designed to fly continuously day and night powered only by sunlight collected by solar cells and stored as electricity in onboard lithium batteries. The ground-breaking aircraft will travel to 12 countries in an historic attempt to fly around the world without using a drop of fuel, travelling approx. 35,000 kilometres over the course of its journey.
Congratulating the pilots on their safe arrival in the Sultanate, Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al-Said, Advisor to His Majesty the Sultan, Chairman of the Research Council, noted, "We are proud that Muscat International Airport is the first stop for the Solar Impulse 2, the solar powered aircraft set to journey around the world and considered to be the pivotal moment in our quest towards a more sustainable environment-friendly future with the use of clean energy. I hope the reception of such a brilliant technological innovation in Oman will motivate the next generation of Omanis to be more creative and innovative in order to develop our vision for the future; as well as help the Sultanate play its part in contributing towards the growth and development of human civilization as a whole.”
Safely secured on the tarmac at Muscat International Airport, the next leg of the Solar Impulse adventure will see the aircraft cross the Gulf of Oman heading onwards to Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India and onto Mandalay, Myanmar. From Myanmar, the Si2 will fly parallel to the Himalayas and north to China, stopping in Chongging before flying an expected 20 hours on to Nanjing. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii on an expected five-day journey, Si2 will fly across the continental US, stopping in three locations including Phoenix, Arizona, and New York. After crossing the Atlantic, the final leg will include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before arriving back in Abu Dhabi late July or early August.
EARLIER STORY: Solar Impulse round-the-world 'live': Video
Ahead of the departure of the first round-the-world solar flight, starting 7.30am today morning (Monday, March 9), Solar Impulse launched the #FutureIsClean movement to gather worldwide support for the use of clean energy.
Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse founders and pilots, in a press conference at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, said, "Only a significant support will push governments to replace old polluting technologies with clean and efficient technologies.
This is what we want to create throughout our solar powered round-the-world flight. If there are technological solutions to fly a plane day and night without fuel, imagine the potential of these technologies in our daily lives, to achieve energy savings and reduce CO2 emissions. This would help create jobs, develop new industrial markets while also protecting the environment.”
The platform www.FutureIsClean.org, was designed with the support of Google, and aims to mobilise individuals, organisations, celebrities and politicians to confront the Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations (COP21), which will define the new Kyoto Protocol in December 2015 in Paris.
The goal is to establish the largest petition ever created to convince governments to implement technological solutions that are necessary. Every site visitor is asked to add their voice to the message "I want concrete solutions for a clean future" and share among their networks.
Several pages of the site will be dedicated to organisations and influential personalities that are joining the movement such as Solar Impulse’s long-term supporters Prince Albert of Monaco and Richard Branson, Masdar, Irena, New 7 Wonders and Green Cross International.
A global ranking is going to be organised within the community in order to valorise the actions realised by its participants: Invitation of friends, sharing on social networks, sending of photos, and promotion of the hashtag #FutureIsClean.
"We need to encourage those negotiating on our behalf to be bold and make 2015 the year where we stop damaging our planet. The future is now and the future is you. Tackling climate change is the biggest adventure of the 21st century. “Be part of the #FutureIsClean generation,” said Richard Branson.
Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chairman of Masdar and UAE Minister of State, and a patron of the movement said, “I am proud and honoured to be a patron of this imperative movement on behalf of the UAE and Masdar.
The 'Future is Clean' is alligned with our country’s objectives, as Masdar and Abu Dhabi are committed to diversifying the global energy mix with reliable wind and solar power.
The world has a shared responsibility – and collective action must be taken – to create a cleaner future. This movement, spearheaded by Solar Impulse, is one of the many ways we can attain our shared objectives and reach a sustainable tomorrow."
The platform #FutureIsClean is also accessible through the updated site, designed to follow the progression of the airplane Si2 during its travel around the world.
Visitors and supporters of the solar project will have the chance to keep up to date about the flight path, its legs ,as well as the life of the pilot on board. Users can directly live the adventure and follow the pilot in his conversations with the Mission Control Center in Monaco (MCC).
Moreover, a virtual cockpit provides the telemetrics of Si2 (altitude, speed, battery level, equipment on board, etc.) and invites children and supporters to immerse themselves into the technical and human challenges that Solar Impulse embarks upon.
The following are two main videos to present the First #RTW Solar Flight :
Exploration To Change The World :
and Construction of Solar Impulse 2 :