Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel? The Swiss-built solar aircraft took off from Muscat in Oman (Reuters)
Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel?
Lexile

An airplane is going to try to fly around the world without using a drop of fuel.

It's a very special plane. The Swiss solar-powered plane took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday. It marked the start of the first attempt to fly around the world without any fuel.

Solar Impulse founder Andr Borschberg was at the controls of the single-seater. It took off from the Al Bateen Executive Airport. Borschberg will trade off piloting with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard during stop-overs. The solar plane's journey will take months to complete.

The Swiss pilots say their aim is to create awareness. It's about replacing "old polluting technologies with clean and efficient technologies."

The plane is expected to reach its first destination after about 10 hours of flight. They will land in Muscat, Oman.

Some legs of the trip will be over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. That will mean five or six straight days of flying.

The lightweight Solar Impulse 2 is a larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew five years ago. It is made of carbon fiber. The plane has 17,248 solar cells built into the wing. They supply the plane with renewable energy. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries.

The company says the plane has a 236-foot wingspan. That is larger than that of the Boeing 747. But it weighs about as much as an SUV at around 5,070 pounds.

In June the plane made an inaugural flight. It traveled two hours and 17 minutes. That was above western Switzerland. That flight was just two months after it was unveiled.

After Oman, the plane will head to India. It will make two stops in that country. Then it's on to China and Myanmar. Next it will head across the Pacific and stop in Hawaii. Then it will fly to Phoenix, Ariz., and New York's biggest airport, John F. Kennedy International. The path across the Atlantic will depend on the weather. It could include a stop in southern Europe or Morocco before ending in Abu Dhabi.

The round-the-world trip is expected to end in late July. Or even August.

Borschberg and Piccard say they want to push politicians, celebrities and private citizens to confront the Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations. It will define the new Kyoto protocol in December 2015 in Paris. There, all countries are supposed to present targets for a new global climate agreement. Governments are expected to adopt a plan at the meeting.

Critical thinking challenge: Why will it take so long to fly over the Atlantic Ocean?

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COMMENTS (5)
  • DylanJ1003452
    3/12/2015 - 12:06 p.m.

    This is very interesting news. Also it would be great if it was a rocket ship because than we could travel to another planet like Mars. But to bad it it only has one seat and to bad it is not a rocket ship.

  • OliviaT-Mau
    3/16/2015 - 11:25 a.m.

    I don't know how it can stay up that long but I hope it does not crash because if that can really work than all the extra fuel we can be saving all of the extra fuel so more planes can fly at the same time.Now if the planes can actually work we can save time and save a lot of money to actually get the fuel.

  • DaytonaP-Ver
    4/17/2015 - 09:06 a.m.

    I think it's amazing that a plane could fly all the way around the world without a single drop of fuel.even though the plane had a wingspans of 236 feet and a weight of 5,070 which about the same weight as a SUV.I think it's a good thing that there making planes with solar panels that has 17,248 solar cells that help the plane fly from the sunlight creating a healthier air without so much pollution that there is.

  • diegor-zur
    9/30/2015 - 10:55 a.m.

    It's the biggest ocean.

  • htarsandi-eri
    1/29/2016 - 09:13 p.m.

    It will take so long to fly over the Atlantic Ocean because it may a take a longer time due the weather conditions. For example, if there is a storm while crossing the Ocean, then it is going to take more than five or six days of traveling. And also the Atlantic Ocean is a very large ocean.

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