Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel?
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?
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A Swiss solar-powered plane took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, marking the start of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.

Solar Impulse founder Andr Borschberg was at the controls of the single-seater when it took off from the Al Bateen Executive Airport. Borschberg will trade off piloting with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard during stop-overs on a journey that will take months to complete.

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

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

Some legs of the trip, such as over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, will mean five or six straight days of flying.

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

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

The plane, in June, made an inaugural flight of two hours and 17 minutes above western Switzerland, just two months after it was unveiled.

After Oman, the plane will head to India, where it will make two stops, then to China and Myanmar before heading across the Pacific and stopping in Hawaii. Then it will head to Phoenix, Ariz., and New York's biggest airport, John F. Kennedy International. The path across the Atlantic will depend on the weather and 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, which will define the new Kyoto protocol in December 2015 in Paris." All countries are supposed to present targets for a new global climate agreement that governments plan to adopt at the meeting.

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

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Assigned 11 times

  • 8cadel
    3/12/2015 - 01:00 p.m.

    Critical Thinking Challenge: It will take a long time to fly over the Atlantic because of possible bad weather, and other stops along the way before they reach their desired location.

  • deondrei-Lam
    3/12/2015 - 03:55 p.m.

    I think it's cool that they made a plane that doesn't run off of fuel. Did it say how much tickets cost to ride?

  • 8cadel
    3/12/2015 - 04:51 p.m.

    Critical thinking challenge: It will take a while to fly over the Atlantic Ocean because of possible bad weather, and different stops on the way. This plane is a solar powered plane that has a 236 foot wingspan and weighs 5,070 pounds. Founder Andre Borschberg hopes to have his plane fly around the world without a single drop of fuel. The plane now hopes to make a ten hour flight to Oman, then it will head to India. After India, it is expected to go to China, then Myanmar, then across the Pacific to Hawaii. In conclusion, this solar powered plane is expected to be able to go on longer flights, and will reduce the pollution from today's planes.

    • 1EianS
      3/13/2015 - 12:44 p.m.

      This is a really good way to reduce our carbon footprint on the earth, and could be a useful design for future cars. It's also quite usefull that the plane is light weight. Its design could really help us in the future.

  • 9alexmr
    3/12/2015 - 06:27 p.m.

    My opinion is that the plane can do it they. if they can do it it will be very cool even though it will take a couple of months they can do it. All they have to do is stay with the sun

  • 5RyanM
    3/12/2015 - 10:00 p.m.

    Critical Thinking Challenge- I think that the trip would take long because of several factors including, the size, it uses electricity and the sun for energy, and it has to make many stops. It would take a long time because the size to weight ratio means that it can't go to fast otherwise it risks many factors like being blown off course. The next part is that the electricity harnessed by the solar cells can not produce the same power as the a traditional engine. Since it has to make many stops on its way it will take a time to reach its final destination.

  • 1michaelm
    3/12/2015 - 10:23 p.m.

    A Swiss solar powered plane left from the United Arab Emirates on Monday starting its attempt to fly around the world. The plane is made of a carbon fiber and 17,248 solar cells that are built into the wing. Andr Borschberg is a pilot of the one seat airplane. The company wants to replace old technologies with clean and efficient new technologies. The planes wingspan is larger then a Boeing 747 wingspan.The plane also weighs about as much as a SUV.

  • 5ReisW
    3/12/2015 - 10:42 p.m.

    Pros and Cons of the aircraft: Some of the good things about this aircraft are the fact that it doesn't use a drop of fuel. The solar panels on the plane allows for complete self generating power. Another pro is its light, about the weight of an SUV. This allows for less power it needs to stay in the air. But there are some downsides to the plane as well. One of the downsides is that it can only fit one person, so it isn't commercial. Another downside is that it is solar powered so it can create as much speed as a gasoline plane could.

  • ThomasC-2
    3/13/2015 - 12:49 a.m.

    A company that claims that its' plane can fly around the world without fuel. The best part of this trip is that the plane runs off of solar energy, and this means the steps we are taking to make a better planet is huge. This plane will make trip around the world, with stops in many countries all over the world. I honestly love this idea, but I was wondering how they would get the food and water when traveling for 5 to 6 days straight over the Atlantic, Pacific, and all oceans and bodies of water in between the trip.

  • jmerlenvvc
    3/13/2015 - 08:23 a.m.

    I think that this plane will be the first of many solar powered vehicles and aircraft. If we continue to further research solar power technology, we wont have to use up as much gas and other natural resources.

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