08 Jul 2010 04:07:03
Solar powered plane successfully completes test flight
The solar power aircraft has successfully completed its test flight, managing to stay airborne for a total of 26 hours.
Pilot Andre Borschberg brought the plane down at an airfield in Switzerland at 9am local time this morning (July 8th), having taken off at 7am local time on Wednesday.
Designed by Solar Impulse, the plane's 61 metre wing span is covered with solar panels and an on board computer system was installed to improve energy efficiency.
Initially the plan had been for the craft to remain airborne four 24 hours with the onboard batteries storing energy from the sun during the day and releasing it at night to allow the plane to fly in the dark.
However, the aircraft eventually managed to fly for 26 hours, setting the record for the longest and highest flight ever completed in a solar powered plane.
Bertrand Piccard, from the Solar Impulse team, said: "It's the first time ever that a solar airplane has flown through the night. Nothing can prevent us from another day and night, and the myth of perpetual flight."
Future plans are to conduct a manned flight across the Atlantic, before attempting to fly around the world.