Solar-powered plane making first international flight
The Solar Impulse takes off from Switzerland on Friday morning on its first international flight.
May 13th, 2011
08:12 AM ET

Solar-powered plane making first international flight

A solar-powered airplane was making its first international flight Friday, a 12-hour, 370-mile journey from Switzerland to Belgium.

Pilot André Borschberg left the experimental plane's base in Payerne, Switzerland, at 8:40 a.m. local time and will pass over portions of France and Luxembourg before landing at Zaventem Airport in Brussels, according to the mission's website,

Last July, the plane successfully stayed aloft for 26 hours during a test flight.

Solar Impulse has a wingspan of more than 206 feet (63 meters) - the same as an Airbus A340 - and is nearly 72 feet (22 meters) long. It weighs about 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) and has nearly 12,000 solar cells attached to its wings and horizontal stabilizers.

The plane is equipped with four electric engines and has a top speed of about 43 mph (70 kph).

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Energy • Environment • Technology
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    Nice little green project. Probably remain experimental for the rest of its days. I don't see him contracting to build for Lufthansa Airlines anytime soon. Hope and pray it makes it to where its going. $4 gas is here. Don't buy gas on Fridays (today). ...back to work. 🙂

    May 13, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    @Jeff Frank: hi.

    I agree though; I know I certainly would but a ticket on this flight! Although, if it can be proven to be reliable, other airlines could follow, if outfitting these planes prove not to be cost-prohibitive.
    At least they are trying to find alternatives to jet fuel!

    May 13, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick from LA

      There have been a few recent breaktrhoughs in photovoltaic systems that will make green projects like this more practical. An airspeed of 43 miles pe hourr means that it's equivalent to 1920's aircraft. If they can get those speeds closer to 80 or 100mph, then these types of craft could be used as a regional commuter transport. Then again I live in Los Angeles where it's sunny pretty much everyday of the year.

      May 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    With a top speed of 43 mph? I think not lol.

    May 13, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |

    looks like the invention of the first cell phones huge bulky ugly. New versions will be out and look sleeker at least. But hey what do i know as long as it doesnt cost me $2,000 to go to Amsterdam for vacation ill be happy. Go 43 mph i dont care the ticket better be $50.00 maybe it will be more cost effective with a birdge to every country haha NOT!!!

    May 13, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bertrand Dumas

    The solar Lindberg!
    It is great that people are experimenting with solar power. There is an unbelievable amount of energy that arrives on earth from the giant fusion reactor we call the sun. It needs to be harnessed for safe, universal power. Experiments like this should lead to more and better things.

    May 13, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. dan smith

    To build solar panels they have to use chemicals that are more harmful to the environment than fossil fuels ever were, solar energy is by no means green energy that is a total myth.

    May 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick from LA

      The chemicials contained in a photovoltaic cell is very dangerous however, it's not dumped enmasse into the atmosphere. Once the cell is built the chemicals are in a safe state for operation, the only issue is how to recycle those chemicals and materials once that cell has exceeded its life expectancy. we cannot recycle fossil fuel emissions...yet..

      May 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ken

    For those who trash this idea, here's a question: Just how far and fast did the Wright brothers go?

    May 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dan smith

    You should read the book, Solar Fraud-Why Solar Energy won't run the world by Howard C Hayden, he is the leading scientist on alternative energies.

    May 13, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dan smith

    For solar energy to run a 1000 kilowatt power plant for 24 hours a day you would have to have, 137 square miles of solar panels, does that sound feasible to anyone.

    May 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dan smith

    For solar energy to run a 1000 kilowatt power plant for 24 hours a day you would have to have, 137 square miles of solar panels, does that sound feasible to anyone. To run the same plant on wind power you would have to have a one mile wide windmills stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Does that really sound feasible to anyone.

    May 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. prince

    I hope d energy dosent go out @ nite & den comes d rain or where thete is no altetnaive dat wil b mass burial

    May 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. whitleyfan810

    Howard C Hayden is the leading scientist on alternative energy, there's no one who knows more about it than he does,he's also emeritus professor of physics at the university of Connecticut so he's not a conservative by any means and yet even he agrees that alternative fuels are just pie in the ski dreams that are unrealistic in the real world.

    May 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ugwuanyi Jonathan

    I think the whole world's energy
    should go solar in order to save our dear planet

    May 14, 2011 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike Day

    This is incredible..this doesn't even looks like a plan. I will love to fly on this one because the airline tickets are getting outrages.
    Mike – cheap international airline tickets

    August 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |