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First international flight by solar energy plane

A SOLAR energy plane began the world's first international flight powered by the sun yesterday to show the potential for pollution-free air travel.

The Solar Impulse took off from an airfield at Payerne in western Switzerland in the morning and landed at Brussels airport 12 hours later.

"The objective is to demonstrate what we can do with existing technology in terms of renewable energy and energy savings," project co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg said.

He believes such solar-harnessing technology can be replicated to power cars and homes.

The plane, which requires 12,000 solar cells, embarked on its first flight in April 2010.

With an average flying speed of 70 kilometres an hour, Solar Impulse is not an immediate threat to commercial jets.

Irish Independent