How Solar Impulse pilots will combat sleep deprivation and extreme temperatures

Bertrand Piccard undergoes a 72 hours non-stop flight simulation

Co-pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will endure significant physical and psychological challenges during five days and nights of non-stop flying

To say that Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders and co-pilots of Solar Impulse, will endure a massive physical and psychological challenge during their round-the-world solar flight might well be the understatement of the decade. The size of the cockpit (3.8 cubic meters) could be described as snug, the plane is not pressurized and temperatures will vary between -20°C to +40°C. Typically each pilot will only manage to sleep for two to three hours in any given 24-hour period.

So how will they fight sleep deprivation and the extreme temperatures during their 35,000-kilometer journey, often with periods of five to six days of non-stop flying? The extreme variation in temperature is perhaps an easier technical problem to solve as the cockpit structure is protected with high density thermal insulation. However, the physical and psychological challenge of sleep deprivation is an entirely different proposition. Both André and Bertrand have their own techniques for achieving deep sleep quickly in order to maintain high levels of concentration, which they describe in the video below:


Related posts:

Solar Impulse 2 successfully completes its maiden flight in southern Switzerland 

Taking solar to new heights: ABB joins Solar Impulse for visionary round-the-world journey


Categories and Tags
About the author

Gregory Hollings

Working every day to produce stories that highlight ABB's innovations!
Comment on this article