Payerne, Switzerland - The Solar Impulse aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg has completed half the leg of its flight to Morocco, with King Mohammed VI as patron, by invitation of the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen).
The prototype landed successfully in Madrid-Barajas airport at 11:28 pm GMT yesterday for a technical layover and a chance to change pilots before the solar airplane reaches its final destination of Rabat (Morocco).
The flight lasted 17h 3min 59s, with the Solar Impulse airplane, with its polyurethane foam cockpit, having taken off at 06h24 am from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland.
The plane, which flies solely powered by solar energy, incorporates many lightweight plastics, is designed to show the huge potential of solar energy for global energy saving.
"The flight went very well and thanks to the team of meteorologists, everything went according to the plan: it was extraordinary," said pilot André Borschberg, ceo and co-founder of the project.
To raise awareness about solar energy's potential to minimise global dependence on petrol and its derivatives, the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (Masen), which is responsible for Morocco's solar energy plan, will host the Solar Impulse team upon arrival in Rabat.
"We look forward to the landing of the HB-SIA which carries so many messages we wish to share on the use of renewables, in particular solar energy" said Masen's president, Mustapha Bakkoury.
Solar Impulse's presence in Morocco will publicise Masen's construction in the Ouarzazate region, of a solar complex which will hold the world's largest thermo-solar power plant with a capacity of 160 MW.
The plant is part of Morocco's energy plan whose goal is to build by 2020 five solar parks with the capacity of 2000 MW, reducing CO2 emission of 3,7 million tonnes.