Solar plane completes US journey with NY landing

Sunday 07 July 2013 17.05
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Solar Impulse began its journey from San Francisco in early May
Solar Impulse began its journey from San Francisco in early May
Solar Impulse Chairman and pilot Bertrand Piccard (L) and Solar Impulse CEO and pilot Andre Borschberg (R) speak during a news conference in June
Solar Impulse Chairman and pilot Bertrand Piccard (L) and Solar Impulse CEO and pilot Andre Borschberg (R) speak during a news conference in June

An airplane entirely powered by the sun has touched down in New York City, completing the final leg of an epic journey across the United States that began over two months ago.

The Solar Impulse, its four propellers driven by energy collected from 12,000 solar cells in its wings to charge batteries for night use, landed at John F Kennedy Airport just after 4am Irish time.

The experimental aircraft had left Dulles International Airport outside Washington for its last leg more than 18 hours earlier

Its route took it north over Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

The project team shortened the flight after a 2.5 meter tear appeared on the underside of the left wing.

The condition of the aircraft was declared sufficiently stable to continue, and pilot Andre Borschberg was not in danger, the organisers said.

The Solar Impulse is the first solar-powered plane capable of operating day and night to fly across the US.

With the wingspan of a jumbo jet and the weight of a small car, the aircraft completed the first leg of the journey from San Francisco to Phoenix in early May and flew later that month from Phoenix to Dallas.

From there it flew to St Louis, stopped briefly in Cincinnati, then flew on to Washington, where is has remained since 16 June.

Intended to boost support for clean energy technologies, the project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of $112 million (€90m).

It has involved engineers from Swiss escalator maker Schindler and research aid from Belgian chemicals group Solvay.

Keywords: solar impulse

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