Ahmedabad, March 10: A solar powered aircraft — Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) — on a global flight has entered Indian airspace and is expected to land here before midnight, officials said.
It has been built not just to fly around the world without an iota of fuel, but also carry a message demonstrating effectiveness of clean technologies and importance of sustaibility. Powered only by the Sun’s rays, the aircraft took off from Muscat (Oman) on Monday and flew over Pakistan before entering Indian airspace over the Arabian Sea towards Gujarat, an official of the Aditya Birla Group, which is hosting the flight here, said.
“It is flying at a speed of around 60 kmph — or roughly equivalent to a scooter — under different weather conditions. We expect it to land anytime before midnight,” the official, requesting anonymity, told IANS here.
The Si2 is the brainchild of founders Bertrand Piccard — a psychiatrist who flew around the world in a hot-air balloon in 1999 — and former Swiss fighter pilot Andre Borschberg — also an experienced flight design engineer — who are alterting at the aircraft controls. “Si2 fits in with our strategy of creativity, innovation and drive and it drives the message of synergising growth with responsibility. We are delighted to be the India host on its ground-breaking flight around the world,” said Aditya Birla Grop chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. The revolutiory single-seater aircraft is made of carbon fiber, with the 72-metre wingspan, larger than a Boeing 747 but weighing 2,300 kgs, or as much as a family car.
Its 17,248 solar cells and four lithium batteries, weighing 633 kgs, supply the electric motors with enough renewable energy for a 24x7 flight, up to an altitude of 8,500 metres — less than the height of Mount Everest which stands at 8,848 metres. (IANS)