Solar Impulse 2 successfully completes maiden flight in southern Switzerland

Dawn video of solar-powered airplane’s takeoff conjures images of Wright Brothers’ 1903 flight that sparked an aviation revolution

Solar Impulse 2 successfully completed its maiden flight Monday morning in southern Switzerland, a key milestone in its pursuit of becoming the first airplane to circle the planet next year on nothing but solar power.

The four-engine aircraft, sponsored by ABB and other partners, reached an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet during a more than two-hour flight where pilot Markus Scherdel tested its handling and pronounced the mission a success.

Electrical and propulsion systems worked without problems, he said.

The “flight director is quite happy,” the Solar Impulse 2 team announced on its Web site after the airplane touched down just before 7 a.m. CET.It is a great moment for everyone who has built this revolutionary solar airplane.”


Already, a smaller version of the Solar Impulse team’s plane has flown day and night, crossing the United States from coast to coast last year.

Now, the impending 2015 voyage of Solar Impulse 2, with a wingspan broader than an Airbus A380 and equipped with more than 17,000 solar cells, will further underscore the potential for clean, renewable technologies to help provide the backbone of transportation and energy systems of the future.

Adventurers Bertrand Piccard, part of the first team to circle the globe non-stop in a balloon in 1999, and Andre Borschberg, flew the first Solar Impulse plane across America last year.

They’ll be at the controls of Solar Impulse 2 next year for its around-the-world flight.

Categories and Tags
About the author

John-Philip Miller

I’m the senior editor in ABB’s group corporate communications team, in Zurich. For most of my career I’ve been a reporter, at Bloomberg News in Zurich and then for the last 10 years at The Associated Press in Idaho.
Comment on this article