Payerne, Switzerland -- Solar Impulse HB-SIA, an aircraft powered exclusively by photovoltaic cells and able to fly automatically, day and night without using any fossil fuels, has had its first successful night flight, from Payerne airbase in Switzerland.
Pilot André Borschberg flew the 64 metre wingspan aircraft for more than 26 hours. The plane was in the air for the whole day on 7 July and through the entire night, flying solely on solar energy.
"I have just flown more than 26 hours withoutusing a drop of fuel and without causing any pollution!" exclaimed Borschberg, ceo and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, onleaving the cockpit.
This flight is the longest and highest in the history of solar aviation, said a press statement from the Solar Impulse project and the team says the next steps are more ambitious: first an Atlantic crossing, then a round the world flight.
The Solar Impulse vessel uses a range of lightweight high tech materials, including special polyurethane foam prepared with a Solvay foaming agent in its cockpit and motor gondolas.
According to the team's statement, the success of this night flight "is crucial for the further course of the Solar Impulse project. Now that the HB-SIA's ability to remain flying at night using solar energy stored during the day has been proved, we can start pushing the human and technological limits further. The next important milestones for Solar Impulse will be the crossing the Atlantic and the around-the-world flight, using the second prototype which goes into construction this summer."