Abu Dhabi: The world’s largest solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 on early Tuesday completed its round-the-world trip after landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport, from where it took off in March 2015.
“This is a very special moment for us, we have completed this journey step by step and we are very excited with the arrival in Abu Dhabi,” second pilot Andre Borschberg told EFE news at the airport.
The plane was piloted by Bertrand Piccard during the last stage between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Solar Impulse 2 has completed a 40,000-km journey in 17 legs. It has taken more than 500 hours of flying over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, the US, southern Europe and North Africa.
Piccard, who was greeted at the steps of the plane by Borschberg, said that the solar plane’s round-the-world journey is “not an achievement in the history of aviation but in the history of energy.”
“We have traveled 40,000 km without fuel,” said the pilot, before emphasising that he can not accept a “polluted world”.
Amidst the sound of bagpipes from the Abu Dhabi orchestra receiving Solar Impulse 2, Borschberg told the press that the last stage from Cario to Abu Dhabi was challenging because of having to fly in high temperatures, which forced the team to “reset the airplane equipment” due to lower air density.
“I feel fulfilled,” confessed Borschberg, before highlighting that among the 17 stages, crossing over the Pacific Ocean was “the biggest challenge” of the round-the-world trip, because it was “the longest period flying”.