AD prepares for 5-month worldwide solar flight

Solar Impulse representatives have arrived in Abu Dhabi to meet local authorities in preparation for the plane’s arrival in January. With the historic flight scheduled to take off from Abu Dhabi next March, pilots of the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) will conduct test flights and perform fine-tuning exercises this January, in preparation for the five-month journey. The plane, and its two co-founders, will attempt to fly around the world – without a drop of fuel – only using the power of the sun.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, is an official host partner of Si2 and Abu Dhabi will be the location of the plane’s departure and arrival.

“It’s fitting that we’re departing from Abu Dhabi,” said Bertrand Piccard, chairman, initiator and pilot of Si2, “as the emirate is a true energy leader committed to realising a cleaner tomorrow. Through initiatives like Masdar, Abu Dhabi is demonstrating a real commitment to diversifying the global energy mix with clean, reliable renewable energy.”

Preparations are well under way for the plane’s arrival in Abu Dhabi, ahead of the five-month round-the-world flight.

“With less than 6 months until departure, we can feel the pressure. The plane must be tested and the entire flight path, including all landing permissions, organised,” explains Andre Borschberg, co-founder and pilot of Si2.

“We couldn’t have wished for a better host city in Abu Dhabi, given its location, state-of-the-art facilities and the fantastic support we’ve received so far.”

The announcement of Abu Dhabi as the host city and Masdar’s partnership with Si2 was made during the UN Climate Summit last month in New York.

“The departure of Solar Impulse – and its journey around the world – is a historic event that Abu Dhabi will play an important role in,” said Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, chairman of Masdar.

“In fact, Solar Impulse and Masdar share a common goal of advancing renewable energy and innovative clean technologies. More importantly, we aim to also inspire future generations to explore new horizons and push the boundaries of science and technology.”

Si2 will be assembled in Abu Dhabi at a specially designated location where safety tests and training will also be undertaken. The plane will be showcased during the World Future Energy Summit, as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, January 17-24, when the public will have the opportunity to view the plane and meet the pilots.

“As a previous guest and speaker during the World Future Energy Summit,” said Piccard, “I’ve seen first-hand Abu Dhabi’s commitment to advancing clean technology, creating social opportunity and extending its energy leadership through the acceleration of wind and solar power. Abu Dhabi is truly the ideal location for our safe departure, and hopefully, arrival.”

The round-the-world flight will take approximately five months, with stops expected in Asia, the United States, Southern Europe or North Africa, before returning to Abu Dhabi in July 2015.