Wednesday 28 September 2016

Solar plane leaves Cairo on last leg of round-the-world voyage

Published 24/07/2016 | 07:11

Pilot Bertrand Piccard is on the last leg of his historic voyage - heading back to Abu Dhabi where he began in March 2015 (AP)
Pilot Bertrand Piccard is on the last leg of his historic voyage - heading back to Abu Dhabi where he began in March 2015 (AP)

An experimental solar-powered plane took off from Cairo for Abu Dhabi on the last leg of its globe-circling voyage.

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The Mission Control Centre tweeted that the Solar Impulse 2 is expected to land in Abu Dhabi after a 48-hour flight.

Mission Control said it had identified a weather window that could allow the plane to overcome the challenging high temperatures across Saudi Arabia.

"Just took off from Cairo to achieve the 1st round-the-world solar flight. A dream I have since 1999," pilot Bertrand Piccard tweeted after Solar Impulse 2 was airborne.

The solar plane had arrived in Cairo on July 13 after a flight from Seville, Spain. The aircraft landed in Seville on June 23 after an unprecedented three-day flight across the Atlantic.

The around-the-world voyage began in March 2015 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The wings of Solar Impulse 2, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.

Ideal flight speed is about 28mph, although that can double during the day when the sun's rays are strongest.

The solar project, which is estimated to cost more than £75 million, began in 2002 to highlight the importance of renewable energy and the spirit of innovation.

AP

Press Association

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