A Swiss project testing solar powered flight has met with overwhelming success. The experimental plane stayed aloft for 24 hours, proving that it can collect enough solar power to fly during the day and in the night. Andre Borschberg, the pilot, eased the plane in for a smooth landing amidst cheers at the Payerne airfield close to the Swiss capital Berne.
The craft had to be helped to a rest as the massive wings were in danger of dipping to the ground and damaging the aircraft. Borschberg was over the moon as he said that they had achieved more than they had set out to. Previously the aircraft had completed only brief flights which were designed to test out the solar cells and the plane’s structure. Today’s momentous event marks the culmination of seven years of meticulous planning.
What this means is that the single seat plane can stay aloft for indefinite periods of time, well at least theoretically. This means that the team can now concentrate on their next goal – circumnavigating the Earth using only solar power. It also proves that air travel can be emissions free. But the technology will not be evident in air travel any time soon, the team conceded.
The team hopes to have a larger and even more efficient plane ready by 2013. That aircraft is expected to have a larger cockpit which will facilitate international flights. It is that aircraft which is expected to take a shot at the round the world trip.