07 Apr 2010 03:04:01
Solar-powered plane completes first test flight
A new solar-powered plane took to the skies in Switzerland this week as its manufacturers examined its flight behaviour.
The Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 yet weighs the same as a small car and features four propellers which help to lift it off the ground.
These are powered using solar cells attached to the plane's wings.
Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard is part of the team responsible for the aircraft and he hopes to fly it around the world in 2012.
He said it was important to determine how the prototype would fly and whether it would be able to keep a straight trajectory.
"To fly without fuel, we have to make it fly in line," he told the Associated Press.
Witnesses said the flight was successful, with the plane enjoying a smooth take-off and landing.
According to government statistics, air travel accounted for 6.4 percent of the UK's carbon dioxide emissions in 2006.
Forecasts suggest they could make up around ten percent by 2020 unless action is taken to reduce them.