Solar Impulse 2 Lands At Phoenix-Goodyear Airport

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 7:25am
Updated: Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - 9:09am
Audio icon Download mp3 (2.14 MB)
(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
Solar Impulse 2 after landing at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport.
(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
The public and media crowd the tarmac near the runway where Solar Impulse 2 landed.
(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
Solar Impulse 2 pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard.

On a journey to become the world’s first solar powered airplane to traverse the planet, Solar Impulse 2 landed outside Phoenix late Monday night. Although it still has a long way to travel, the plane and its pilots arrived to a lot of fanfare at its second U.S. stop.

After a 16 hour flight from Mountain View, California, Swiss pilot André Borschberg landed Solar Impulse 2 at Phoenix-Goodyear Airport. Although solar panels cover the 236 foot wingspan, the near-silent aircraft was powered by batteries that stored the sun’s power during the day.

“It’s not only solar energy which is important," said Borschberg. "To fly with the sun, this airplane had to be extremely energy efficient to really use the energy we produce. And then, for the difference, to use renewables. The mix of both is really what this airplane represents.”

The efficiency of Solar Impulse 2 engines is 97 percent. Co-pilot Bertrand Piccard said compare that to 30 percent of a typical combustion engine, where most energy is lost as heat.

“Solar impulse is the ultimate application of clean technologies and solar power," Piccard said. "Until now it was impossible to do that. You cannot look into the future with old technologies. With old ways of doing, with old ways of thinking. What is today profitable is to replace the old outdated technologies with new clean technologies.”

Roughly the size of a Boeing 747, Solar Impulse 2 only weighs the same as an SUV. Departure depends on weather and is tentatively set for Kansas City. Abu Dhabi is its final destination.

Science

Like Arizona Science Desk on Facebook