Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), the solar-powered plane that set off from Abu Dhabi last March, has become the first aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth without using a drop of fossil fuel.
Landing back in the capital at around 4.30am on Tuesday, it completed its epic journey back where it had started. A welcoming committee of UAE and international dignitaries received Solar Impulse 2 at Al Bateen Executive Airport.
The iconic aircraft’s arrival in the UAE capital marks the triumphant conclusion of a voyage that has taken in sixteen stops around the world, including a number of countries where the investment of Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company Masdar is already pushing the boundaries of clean technology, extending access to sustainable energy and reducing carbon emissions. Masdar is the official host partner of Solar Impulse 2.
Solar Impulse Initiator and Chairman Bertrand Piccard is piloting Si2 on the last leg of its round-the-world trip from Cairo, bringing full circle an adventure that began when Andre Borschberg, CEO and Co-Founder, departed the UAE in March 2015. Both men have taken the controls of the aircraft during its pioneering flight.
"To have flown more than 40,000 kilometres powered only by the sun shows that solar energy has truly arrived as a viable technology, and has significant potential for wider development," CEO of Masdar, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, said shortly before the aircraft completed its final leg. "Solar Impulse will stand forever as a tribute to human ingenuity and our capacity to work together to solve common challenges."
Over its entire mission, Solar Impulse 2 has completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at altitudes of up to 9,000 metres and at an average speed of between 45km/h and 90km/h. A total of 19 world records have been set.
Si2 began its record-breaking journey in March 2015, with sixteen stopovers along the way in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Egypt.