Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, has landed in Chongqing, China, after successfully completing the 5th and most challenging flight since having started the inspiring and ambitious round-the-world (RTW) attempt. The landing was delayed by 36 minutes due to traffic at the airport, and the winds were greater than anticipated. In spite of these obstacles, the landing was perfect.
Solar Impulse released the news that the solar aircraft departed from the Mandalay International Airport at 3:36 am local time (9:06 pm GMT) on March 29. The anticipated 19 hours of flying time and 1,375 kilometers (742 NM, 854 miles) of distance covered were physically demanding for Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard, due to the prolonged use of oxygen required in the unpressurized cockpit, in which Bertrand Piccard faced temperatures descending to minus 20 degrees celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).
And now officially in China! So much work to make this moment possible and so many great collaborations with China! pic.twitter.com/t43VQLzZ0m
— Bertrand PICCARD (@bertrandpiccard) March 30, 2015
The flight was also demanding with respect to the steep ascent and limited time allowed for high-altitude preparation as Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) flew over mountains at the beginning of the flight. Si2 was subsequently expected to remain at a flying altitude of roughly 7,300 meters (23,950 feet) during the majority of the flight. The solar-powered aircraft entered Chinese airspace approximately 6 hours after takeoff. The weather forecasted in China was for mainly clear skies – a rare situation in the region. However, strong, low-level winds up to 40 knots were expected in Chongqing, which required Bertrand Piccard to tackle these challenging conditions.
The Si2 team contemplated a fast turnaround — however, the next flight from Chongqing to Nanjing cannot be done tomorrow. The mission engineers have analyzed different solutions which were presented at the briefing that took place during the flight, and almost all parties gave a yellow or red flag. They are thinking safety first! No pit stop. One solar cell was damaged during Si2’s stay in Mandalay, and the capacity to capture solar energy has been reduced by 2%.
Solar Impulse pilot, André Borschberg, will continue onward from Chongqing (Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, CKG/ZUCK), in the People’s Republic of China, to Nanjing (Nanjing Lukou International Airport, NKG/ZSNJ), also in the People’s Republic of China, once the mission engineers clear Si2 for the 6th RTW flight.
André Borschberg will fly the zero-fuel airplane on about 1190 km (642 NM, 739 miles) for an estimated time of 20 hours.
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Video Credit: SOLAR IMPULSE | Photo Credits: 2015-03-29 Solar Impulse 2 RTW 5th Flight Mandalay to Chongqing takeoff via Solar Impulse | Cartoon Credit: Martin Saive via Solar Impulse
Source: CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission.