Monday, 28 October 2013

Solar powered airplane to touch ground in India in 2015

NEW DELHI: The Solar Impulse - a revolutionary solar powered airplane which had completed its first cross-country journey in the USA in July - will make New Delhi and Varanasi its landing and departing destinations during its round the world mission in 2015.

Idea behind this Swiss-made airplane, which had completed its US mission without using a drop of fossil fuel on board, is to demonstrate the capabilities of clean technology and renewable energy.

The move comes at a time when the governments across the world are looking for alternatives of fossil fuel to not only fight the menace of climate change by drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions but also to pull themselves out of the vicious trap of oil economy.

Gregory Blatt, head of communication of this project, who was in India last week to get various clearances for its New Delhi and Varanasi stopovers, told TOI that the Solar Impulse is a kind of tool to tell the world about power and potential of clean energytechnology.

Blatt said if an airplane could fly for such a long hour without using a drop of fossil fuel, then why can't a car run on solar power for 50 r more miles in one go.

"Solar Impulse is not designed to carry passengers, but to carry a message. If we can do it in the air, we can do it in our daily life using clean technology", he said, explaining how this solar powered scientific marvel serves as "an Ambassador for renewable energy".

The around the world mission flights will take place from beginning of March to end of the summer 2015. Landing and departing destinations are currently being identifiedfinalized in Europe, Gulf countries and China, depending on technical and operational considerations. In India, New Delhi and Varanasi have, however, been finalized for the mission.

Crossing the Pacific is expected to be the most difficult phase of this mission as pilot will have to fly five days non-stop during this leg of the trip.

Solar Impulse - having wingspan of a 747 aircraft, weight of a car and power of a scooter - is constructed in such a way that its thousands of solar panels across its wings can harness power from the sun during the day and its lithium-polymer batteries can store that energy for overnight trips.

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, co-founders and pilots of the Solar Impulse, who had completed the US mission in July, will fly the airplane in different legs of landingdeparting destinations during the 2015 around the world mission.

Since each pilot will have to fly for four-five days during the circumnavigation of the globe, both of them will have to be trained in such a waycondition that they can fly the plane non-stop for five days.

The Solar Impulse had proved itself for the first time in 2010 when it successfully conducted its first-ever historical 26-hour flight. Subsequently in 2011, its first plane - HB SIA - flew to Brussels under the patronage of the European Union and was also invited as a special featured guest to the Paris-Le Bourget International Airshow.

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