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Solar-powered aeroplane scripts history, completes round-the-world trip

Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane, lands at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane, lands at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

London: Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered aeroplane completed the first, round-the-world flight after touching down in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Solar Impulse 2 with a wingspan wider than a Boeing 747, carries more than 17,000 solar cells on its wings, began the circumnavigation in March 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

Since then, it has crossed both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans using no fossil fuel and has spent more than 23 days in the air.

Solo pilot, Bertrand Piccard shortly before landing said he was feeling emotional as he neared the end of the journey.

“It is a very, very special moment – it has been 15 years that I am working on this goal. I hope people will understand that it is not just a first in the history of aviation, but also a first in the history of energy,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.

He added that technologies now can make the world much better and we have to use them, not only for the environment, but also because they are profitable and create jobs.

The flight works on the principle that during daylight, the solar panels charge the plane’s batteries, which make up a quarter of the craft’s 2.3 tonne weight.

During the day, the pilot also climbed to 29,000 feet and glided down to 5,000 feet at night, to conserve power.

The journey of Solar Impulse has not been without difficulties. In 2015, the crosswinds in China caused weeks of delays and overheating batteries during the Pacific crossing forced it to spend the winter inside a Hawaiian hangar.

In the same year, the team also overcame financial troubles after raising €20m from sponsors. (ANI)

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