A Bright Future for Solar-Powered Airplanes

by Alyssa Daniells

The longest non-stop solo flight in aviation history was achieved last week –without fuel– thanks to a solar-powered airplane.

Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg flew the Solar Impulse 2 7,200 km from Japan to Hawaii, on his quest to circumnavigate the globe in an experimental aircraft, a highly ambitious feat.

The record-breaking flight took five days and 117 hours.

With the aircraft running on solar energy, 62-year Borschberg had to run on less than 20-minute sleep intervals, battling exhaustion and extreme weather conditions, to set the world record.

Borschberg was not only behind the yoke, but the creation of the Solar Impulse 2. He and his co-pilot and partner in the venture, Bertrand Piccard, are explorers as well. Beyond making a historic milestone, the pair sought to shine a light on the capabilities of solar power in air travel.

80 engineers and technicians, with Borschberg at the helm, were involved in making the revolutionary Solar Impulse 2, applying novel and innovative solutions over a 12 year period.

In a time where airlines are rigorously seeking to reduce carbon emissions, this accomplishment is a significant step towards solar-powered airplanes and a greener future.

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