(Newsdesk, updated Mar 9, 2014, 14:47 EDT, to reflect arrival in Oman)
At 07:12 local time (03:12 GMT) today, the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), heading towards Muscat Oman, to start a journey of 35,500km around the Northern Hemisphere. This first leg of 400 km will take an estimated 12 hours.
The solar plane is the brainchild Swiss Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard. Borschberg was at the controls of the single seater aircraft with 17,000 solar panel cells. He will share duties with Piccard.
The pilots will stay alert at the controls most of the time and are allowed only 20 minute power naps, the same as single-handed around the world sailers. The cockpit measures 3.8 cubic meters and the seat doubles up as a toilet. Sometimes they will be in the air for 5-6 days.
Ed note: update Mar 9, 2014, 14:47 EDT:
Andre Borschberg landed the plane in Muscat (Muscat International Airport, MCT/OOMS) in the Sultanate of Oman, at 8.13pm (16:13UTC). He flew the zero-fuel airplane for 13 hours and 1 minute, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,791 m, 19,000 ft.
This revolutionary single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747-8I) for a weight of just 2,300 Kg, equivalent to that of a car.
The 17,000 solar cells built into the wing supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy.
During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg (2077 lbs.) which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.
Solar Impulse 2 pages:
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