While the Solar Impulse has flown around the world it has never landed at a major airport or filed a real flight plan. This is too cool for words. I know this is not an Earth Day thing but it should be.
Solar Impulse on stand-by from Monday
author: Bernard Schopfer
In these last few weeks the entire Solar Impulse team has been busy doing “test flights” in the Payerne area, to test the satellite communication systems developed by Swisscom, and also the air traffic integration procedures. The support received from the aviation authorities in the overflight and destination countries has been extremely positive and constructive.
For the European solar flight campaign the Solar Impulse team, sponsored by the European Commission, has chosen Brussels as the 1st international destination. The airplane will be shown in the European capital from 23 to 29 May 2011 and will then attempt to reach Paris-Le Bourget, where it is expected as a “Special Guest” at the 49th International Paris Air Show.
“These tests have been extremely successful”, says an elated Bertrand Piccard. “Now, here we are in the definitive phase: it’s no longer a question of tests, but the real thing. And the next flights will not be made in the “familiar cocoon” of Payerne aerodrome, but in the whole of Europe…” Rather like a sailing ship that has undergone coastal trials, and is now set to cross its first ocean!
“We will be in stand-by mode from Monday”, explains André Borschberg, who will pilot the HB-SIA between Payerne and Brussels. “And we definitely mean to take the first opportunity that comes along, since we can never be sure of the weather conditions and whether they will allow us to do this flight on a particular date. With Solar Impulse we are confined to what we can do with the technology at the present time, and safety is our number one priority.”