Solar Impulse 2 completes Atlantic flightSolar Impulse 2 has landed in Seville, completing the world's first solar-powered crossing of the Atlantic on Thursday 23rd June 2016. The 6765km (4,200mi) flight took just shy of three days (71 hours and 8 minutes), taking off from New York three days ago.
After 71 hours and 8 minutes of flight time crossing the Atlantic, Solar Impulse 2 has touched down in Seville, Spain. It's a major step toward the team's goal of circumnavigating the globe using only the sun's power.
The end of this leg means they’ve now completed 90 percent of that journey.
As The Two-Way has reported, the single-seater plane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport early Monday with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls.
Solar Impulse 2, which is slowly making its way back around the world to Abu Dhabi, has two pilots that take turns. The Atlantic hop was Bertrand Piccard's longest flight in Solar Impulse 2. André Borschberg, who piloted the agonisingly drawn-out Nagoya to Hawai leg, still retains the record for longest ever solo flight (8924km over 117 hours and 52 minutes) back in July 2015.
The flights take such a long time because Solar Impulse 2, as the name suggests, is completely powered by sunlight. The plane's massive 72-metre wings (broader than a 747!) are covered in some 269.5 square metres of photovoltaic cells. During the day, the cells power four 14kW (17.4hp) electric motors and top-up four 41kWh lithium-ion batteries. During the evening, the motors are driven by the batteries. Max cruise speed when the sun is up is 49 knots (90km/h), and a rather languid 33 knots (60km/h) at night.
The solar cells don't quite refill the batteries during the day, which means the plane can't fly forever just yet. Max flight duration is somewhere around five to six days.
For power-saving reasons, the Solar Impulse 2 cockpit can only carry a single human, and is both unheated and unpressurised. The pilots do sleep while they're up in the air, but usually just for 20 minutes at a time (the telemetry data for one flight showed 10 catnaps of 20 minutes over a 24-hour period). Now multiply those conditions by a continuous flight time of three or four days and you have some idea of the rigours that Piccard and Borschberg must go through.