Update: Solar Impulse completes Pacific crossing


Racking up a number of world records along the way, the Solar Impulse 2 has completed its crossing of the Pacific. The second leg of the Pacific flight took three days and two nights. The second Pacific leg began in Hawaii with the plane flying 4,523 km and breaking several world records.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard completed the leg, which saw the Solar Impulse team break a series of records including distance, speed, duration and altitude in the electric airplane category and altitude in the solar airplane category. The records are pending final verification.

The Hawaii to California leg took 62 hours and 29 minutes, with the Solar Impulse 2 flying at an average speed of 65,39 km/h. The plane had begun its journey after some uncertainty about winds, the Associated Press reported.

Piccard and co-pilot have been alternating in which legs they complete. Borschberg completed the first leg of the Pacific crossing.

Borschberg landed Solar Impulse 2 in Hawaii after a record breaking flight of five days and nights (117 hours and 52 minutes) and around 8,900 km from Japan.

During this flight, the airplane suffered battery damage due to overheating, which led to an unforeseen delay in the journey.

“As we experienced many times with Solar Impulse, obstacles often turn out to be opportunities for improvement,” said Borschberg. “Ultimately, this time was used to recreate the strong mindset within the team to continue our adventure. It takes sometimes more time to build up the right spirit then to develop new technologies.”

The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft relies on a combination of size, weight, pressurization and technological configurations: a 2,300-kilogram structure with a 72-meter wingspan composed primarily of light carbon fiber composites. The plane is equipped with 17,248 solar cells and solar panels measuring 269.5 square meters to produce 340 kilowatts of solar energy by day that enable it to fly day or night; and a single seat, 3.8-cubic meter cockpit designed for pilot comfort and ergonomics up to six consecutive days and nights at temperatures ranging from -40°C to 40°C and zero pressurization, plus room for supplies.