The Solar Impulse Solar-Powered Airplane

The Solar Impulse Solar-powered Airplane World Debut

In June 2011, key representatives of the aviation industry met for the 49th International Paris Air Show, one of the world’s largest and most important events within the industry. It is here that major companies present their outstanding innovations, and the future of flying. The solar-powered Solar Impulse, was a “special guest” at the international exhibition. The 72 feet, single-seat model HB-SIA with a 208 feet wingspan is just the prototype of HB-SIB, a larger airplane that has the goal of flying around the world in 2013. Available material includes edited packages in English and German, general views and soundbites from Bertrand Piccard, President Solar Impulse, and Andr Borschberg, CEO Solar Impulse.

An intense week of presentations and promotion at the International Air and Space Show in Paris-Le Bourget has reached its conclusion for the Solar Impulse team, led by Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg.  Solar Impulse’s honorary status as special guest of the International Air and Space Show in Paris-Le Bourget gave Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg the opportunity to present the HB-SIA and the Solar Impulse vision and objectives to some of the aviation industry’s highest ranking officials. They also presented the concept to politicians and approximately 350,000 Air Show visitors, including 3,000 members of the international media.

Solar Impulse is a reminder that we must think of more energy efficient aircraft solutions right away, said French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a speech at the opening ceremony. Shaping the future of aviation also means creating sustainable aircraft, he said. His comments sum up the week. Solar Impulse demonstrated that clean technology can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and introduced a philosophy that caught the imagination of fellow Air Show exhibitors.

Being special guests at the biggest aviation show in the world allowed us to promote our vision for the combined use of renewable energies and clean technology, not only in aviation, but society in general, said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse President and founder. The feedback here has been extremely encouraging.

Andr Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO, added that despite representing only 3% of global CO2 emissions, the aviation industry is working towards a greener solution. They showed great interest in our project, he said.

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Transport, was among the many personalities that passed beneath the wings of Solar Impulse. Solar Impulse represents the dreams and passion of aviation at Le Bourget Air Show, but beyond symbolism there are concrete questions and solutions, she declared.

Louis Gallois, the Chief Executive Officer of EADS, said: The Solar Impulse concept is very interesting. We shan’t be able to transport passengers in this way, but your technological progress inspires us. It is important to make space for dreams in this industrial environment and that is what Solar Impulse is doing. Bravo! Christine Lagarde, Minister for Economic Affairs, Finance and Industry, couldn’t hide her enthusiasm either: You are very convincing and, on top of it, you are actually demonstrating what you are talking about.

Sunday morning, Solar Impulse executed a splendid display flight in front of a huge crowd, and ended what has been an extremely productive week. Gilles Fournier, President of Le Bourget airshow, declared afterwards: This flight was the highlight of the air show. 30,000 people saw it this morning, and there was a very strong emotion amongst the crowd. This very intense moment reminded me of the prestigious history of Le Bourget air show. Solar Impulse is at the heart of this tradition.

The Solar Impulse European campaign concludes as the plane touches down in Payerne

Payerne, 3 July 2011 Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg’s Solar Impulse HB-SIA aircraft returned to Payerne in Switzerland from Paris-Le Bourget on Sunday 3 July bringing its European tour, which included visits to Brussels and Paris, to a close.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype, piloted by Andr Borschberg, touched down this evening in Payerne at 19:42 after a 12:31 hour flight powered by solar energy alone. The arrival concludes the Solar Impulse team’s highly successful European flight campaign, during which Bertrand Piccard and Andr Borschberg met many people, including several high level political and financial personalities.

The feedback from our European flight campaign is encouraging said Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse founder and president. The welcome we received from political and industrial circles in Brussels and Paris shows that Solar Impulse is pioneering a new way of thinking in terms of renewable energy and energy saving.

As a guest in Brussels under the patronage of the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Council, and of the European Commission, the Solar Impulse team actively promoted new technologies and renewable energies with the aim of reducing dependency on fossil fuel. From Brussels, the team traveled to Paris where they were honoured as special guests of the International Air and Space Show in Le Bourget. This status gave the team the opportunity to introduce the Solar Impulse aircraft, their vision and their goals to some of the highest ranking aviation officials, politicians and approximately 350,000 visitors to the show, including 3,000 members of the world’s press.

Solar Impulse HB-SIA, piloted by Andr Borschberg, completed three international flights during the European campaign: Payerne to Brussels on 13 May (630km), Brussels to Paris-Le Bourget on 14 June (395km) and Paris-Le Bourget to Payerne on 3 July (426 km). With a round the world flight scheduled for 2014, these flights have provided good learning opportunities in terms of slotting the solar aircraft into international air space and landing at international airports.
The growing interest in the solar project and the message the team is conveying is illustrated by the 3,600,000 unique visitors to the Solar Impulse website since the beginning of May. Visitors have watched 3,670,000 videos online.

Andr Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot for the European campaign said: This solar plane is an extraordinary example of what we can do with stored energy. The welcome we received in Brussels and Paris was highly motivating for the team as we enter phase two of the project which is building a second plane to fly around the world.

  • Flight Report (UTC +2)
  • Paris-Le Bourget Payerne
  • Pilot: Andr Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder
  • Take-off time: 03/07/2011 07:11
  • Time of landing: 03/07/2011 19:42
  • Flight duration: 12 hours 31 min
  • Average speed: 40km/h (22 knots)
  • Average altitude: 2’500 metres (8’000 feet)
  • Distance: 426 km (230 nautical miles)

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