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Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse refers to two long-range solar-powered aircraft; in 2016, Solar Impulse 2 completed the first solar-powered flight around the world.


Solar Impulse refers to two aircraft (HB SIA/Solar Impulse 1 and HB SIB/Solar Impulse 2), developed by the Solar Impulse Foundation. On July 26th, 2016, Solar Impulse 2 completed the first around-the-world flight by a solar-powered airplane, landing in Abu Dhabi after fourteen months and 550 hours in the air, covering 25,000 miles over four continents, two oceans, and three seas.

Founded in 2004, the Solar Impulse Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life on Earth by fast-tracking the implementation of clean and profitable solutions to encourage the adoption of more ambitious environmental targets and policies.

Solar Impulse 1

The first prototype of Solar Impulse 1 was unveiled on June 26th, 2009, by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The aircraft had a 63 m wingspan and weighed 1600 kg. After several successful daytime flights, Solar Impulse 1 made the first-ever solar aviation night flight on July 7th, 2010, piloted by André Borschberg. The plane went on to make many more successful flights, including the following:

  • Brussels to Paris
  • Switzerland to Morocco
  • Across the United States from San Francisco to New York (through Phoenix, Dallas, St Louis, and Washington DC)

Solar Impulse 1, taken on July 24th, 2012.
Solar Impulse 2

In April 2014, ABB joined as the main partner of Solar Impulse 2 with test flights taking place during the summer of 2014. Masdar, an Abu Dhabi government-owned renewable energy company, became the host partner of Solar Impulse, with the plane arriving in the country for testing in January 2015. The around-the-world journey began on March 9th, 2015, and was made up of seventeen legs, starting and finishing in Abu Dhabi. Solar Impulse 2 was flown by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borchberg. In December 2015, Solar Impulse 2 raised €20m to continue its journey after being grounded in Hawaii due to battery problems and poor weather. On July 26th, 2016, Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi, completing the first solar-powered around-the-world trip.

Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg after completing the first solar-powered round the world flight.

Around the world journey legs of Solar Impulse 2

Flight Time
Start Point
End Point


3/9/2015 03:12 UTC

3/9/2015 16:13 UTC

13hr 1min

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Muscat, Oman

772 km


3/10/2015 02:35 UTC

3/10/2015 17:55 UTC

15hr 20min

Muscat, Oman

Ahmedabad, India

1593 km


3/18/2015 01:48 UTC

3/18/2015 15:03 UTC

13hr 15min

Ahmedabad, India

Varanasi, India

1170 km


3/18/2015 23:52 UTC

3/19/2015 13:21 UTC

13hr 29min

Varanasi, India

Mandalay, Myanmar

1536 km


3/29/2015 21:06 UTC

3/30/2015 17:35 UTC

20hr 29min

Mandalay, Myanmar

Chongqing, China

1636 km


A table comparing key parameters for the two Solar Impulse aircraft is shown below:

Solar Impulse 1 Vs Solar Impulse 2

HB SIA / Solar Impulse 1
HB SIB / Solar Impulse 2

Battery pack

4 x 21 kWh

4 x 41 kWh

Loaded weight

1600 kg

2300 kg

Motor Power

4 x 7.5 kW

4 x 7.5 kW

Peak power

45 kW

66 kW

Propeller Diameter

3.5 m

4.0 m


July 26, 2016
Solar Impulse 2 completes the first around-the-world flight by a solar-powered airplane.

After 14 months and 550 hours in the air, the plane landed in Abu Dhabi completing its 25,000-mile journey.

December 1, 2015
Solar Impulse raises €20m to continue its journey after being grounded in Hawaii due to battery problems and poor weather.
March 9, 2015
HB SIB's around-the-world journey begins in Abu Dhabi.
April 2014
ABB joins as the main partner of HB SIB, with test flights planned for the summer 2014.
July 7, 2010
HB SIA performs first night flight in solar aviation, piloted by André Borschberg.

The flight comes after several successful daytime flights.

June 26, 2009
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg unveil first prototype of HB SIA.

The prototype was the result of 6 years work and had a 63 m wingspan and weighed 1600 kg.

May 2008
Flight simulator developed in collaboration with Dassault and EPFL enables both pilots to simulate flying HB SIA for the first time.

The simulator allowed for 25hours equipped and harnessed as the pilots would be for real flights.

March 2007
Agreement formalized with Deutsche Bank as well as partnership agreements with official suppliers, such as SolarMax, Victorinox, Toyota Switzerland, Swisscom and BKWFMB.
Solar Impulse Foundation is founded.
Bertrand Piccard asks the Geneva Utilities Department to provide a preliminary analysis regarding the feasibility of solar-powered planes flying day and night.

Further Resources


What is solar impulse?


July 7, 2017


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