Posted December 01, 2015 23:59:22

The Swiss solar-powered plane whose record-setting, round-the-globe flight was place on hold in July by weather and battery problems has raised the 20 million euro ($ 29 million) it demands to finish the trip, co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg says.

Mr Borschberg, at the United Nations’ Paris climate summit with co-pilot Bertrand Piccard, stated backers that contain chemical maker Solvay, Swiss lift maker Schindler, power grid maker ABB and Swatch’s Omega brand, produced contributions.

Mr Borschberg and Mr Piccard had hoped to finish the 35,000-kilometre, multi-leg circumnavigation in 2015, leaving from Abu Dhabi in March.

Initial crosswinds in China triggered weeks of delays.

Then, when its batteries overheated in the course of a record-breaking five-day, 5-night Pacific crossing from Japan to Hawaii in July, the plane was forced to winter inside a hangar at Kalaeloa.

“The monetary side is beneath control,” Mr Borschberg, a former Swiss Air Force fighter pilot and co-founder of Solar Impulse, mentioned.

“We are all extremely focused and hunting forward to continuing next year,” stated the 62-year-old, who flies solo, alternating in between pit-stops with Mr Piccard at the controls of the single-seat plane.

Solar Impulse’s price range since 2004 is now some $ 247 million. The plane has 17,248 solar cells, a wider wing-span than a Boeing 747 and weighs as much as a five-seater household auto.

Mr Borschberg said he plans to start test flights around March and, barring obstacles, the 4,000-kilometre leg from Hawaii to North America starts in April, when daylight hours are enough to recharge the batteries.

West Coast stops have been left open to accommodate potentially fickle weather.

Vancouver, as effectively as San Francisco, Los Angeles or Phoenix are all candidates, Mr Borschberg stated.

They also strategy on a US Midwest pit-cease followed by New York’s John F Kennedy Airport, ahead of crossing to either Europe or North Africa and, finally, Abu Dhabi.

“We know we can do it, but it remains a challenge,” Mr Borschberg mentioned.

He mentioned he hopes a year’s delay will not undermine the message he aims to spread at the Paris climate talks: deploying renewable energy technologies will assist cease climate alter.

“That is what we utilized to make it feasible to fly day and night with the sun only,” he mentioned.

“That’s what we surely could implement on a bigger scale.”


Topics: solar-power, hawaii, france

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