Solar Impulse – Tougher than it Looked

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The record-breaking flight from Nagoya, Japan to Kalaeloa, Hawaii by Andre’ Borschberg in Solar Impulse had more difficulties than were immediately apparent to even the most involved observer.  During the first climb out of Nagoya, some of the cells mounted behind each motor experienced overheating, now attributed to over-insulation.  High-density foam packed around the cells was apparently too effective for even the freezing temperatures at altitude and caused the batteries to become warmer than desired. As explained on the Solar Impulse web site, “The energy collected by the solar cells is stored in lithium polymer batteries, whose energy density is optimized to 260 [Watt-hours per kilogram]. The batteries are insulated by high-density foam and mounted in the four engine nacelles, …

Solar Impulse Breaks More Records, Attracts More Eyes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At 79 hours into the flight Flight Director Michi Anger let viewers on Solar Impulse’s web site know that the “U-turns” the airplane performed were to get the maximum amount of solar energy in the plane – “That’s why it looks as if we’re facing the wrong direction.” “André got a good amount of rest during the last 12 hours, but we had some problems finding calm air. André had 300m of resting periods but could only sleep for 170m. The autopilot is designed to function only in calm air so we had to wake André up from the MCC. This is a rude awakening for him so it made it more difficult for him to go back into sleep. “André passed 76h 45min of flight, breaking Steve Fossett’s 2006 record for the …

Solar Impulse Passes Midway Islands

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With the sun soon to rise in the Pacific, Solar Impulse 2 continues scooting at over 60 mph toward Honolulu as the third night comes to an end.  Significantly, Andre’ Borschberg and the 747-size plane have made it past the Midway Islands, once a stop-over for Pan-Am Boeing 314 “China Clippers.”  Even with their 3,500-mile range, those luxurious planes needed a fueling stop mid-way between Hawaii and China or Guam. The islands were important enough as a way station in the vast Pacific that one of the largest and most decisive battles of World War II took place near them.   In a battle terrible destructive to both sides, U. S. forces sank four Japanese carriers, essentially casting the fate of …

A Second Night on Solar Impulse

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Pixar’s current film, Inside Out, depicts the emotions of an 11-year-old girl having her life disrupted by family circumstances.  Different voice actors depict Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness, emotions struggling for control within Headquarters (get it?).  Imagine your editor’s surprise to find that Solar Impulse’s Headquarters reports on its audience’s emotional state as part of the graphics which inform us about the flight’s progress – now in its second night over the North Pacific. Luckily, Andre’ Borschberg is a man of a well-disciplined character, with training in Yoga and self-hypnosis to help him benefit from the 20-minute rest periods that take the place of a normal night’s sleep.  But depending on events in the flight, those of us checking …

Solar Impulse Pulls a Fast One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Confusion surrounded the takeoff of Solar Impulse 2 from Nagoya, Japan in Sunday’s early hours, with some news reports showing that the airplane had departed, but the project’s web site silent.  That was cleared up over nine hours into the flight, with revelations that Andre’ Borschberg and the control center in Monaco had spent hours resolving issues with the aircraft’s systems and determining that the flight would continue.  They did this without the press of the press adding to the tension. The team made crucial decisions regarding safety and system reliability and made the big choice to continue on the five day, five night voyage.  Weather conditions over the 8,340 kilometer (5,170 mile) course remain promising and motors, batteries and all …

Solar Impulse: Bad News, Good News

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Solar Impulse team had bad news today.  “Unfortunately the current weather window to reach Hawaii has closed. The cold front is too dangerous to cross, so we have decided to land in Nagoya Airfield, also known as Komaki Airport, and wait for better weather conditions in order to continue.” The good news came with the safe landing following a record 40 hours in the air for Andre’ Borschberg, who had ample opportunity to practice the self-hypnosis and meditation skills that help keep him sharp.  That the full flight would have added at least 80 hours to the endeavor seems less daunting now, since the Solar Impulse team handled the diversion to Nagoya calmly and professionally, even obtaining the services of a bicycle rider to …

Solar Impulse Readied for Pacific Test

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

With Andre’ Borschberg recuperating in Switzerland, Bertrand Piccard flew Solar Impulse 2 on the last leg of its China stay, making a 17 hour, 22 minute, 1,344 kilometer (725.7 nautical mile) flight between Chongquing and Nanjing.  The plane is being readied for its biggest leap so far, from Nanjing to Hawaii, a five-day mission that will test the endurance of the pilot and all systems of the giant ultralight aircraft. The Star, a Malaysian newspaper, reported what could be a growing concern.  “’Can we make the pilot sustainable as well?’ Andre Borschberg said by video link from Switzerland, where he is receiving treatment for health problems.”  He described his problems as “shingles,” with frequent migraines, both painful inflictions. “’This will …

Solar Impulse Wins Over Junior High Students, English Tabloid

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2’s 20-hour flight from Mandalay, Myanmar to Chongqing, China included the slowest ground speeds in the massive solar airplane’s history. The Solar Impulse web site reported at 17:35 UTC on “Bertrand Piccard has finally landed Si2 in Chongqing, China, under the applauses of the solar teams and solar impulse fans around the world. The landing has been difficult as the pilot had to manoeuver the aircraft in a rather windy spot after a 20h30 long flight. The team in Monaco is honored to receive the visit of Prince Albert of Monaco at the Mission Control Center. “ Piccard reached 26,500 feet on his traversal of the Himalayas, certainly a cold and hazardous flight in the dark.  Earlier, he enjoyed an …

Solar Impulse in Mandalay for a Productive Week

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

After a 13-hour flight from Varanasi, India, to Mandalay (VYMD) in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg have now had more press conferences than landings, giving a clue as to the real mission of Solar Impulse 2. Flights thus far have been fairly uneventful, which is a plus in any pilot’s logbook.  The two pilots seem to be busier when they touch down, first finding themselves surrounded by media, then attending a series of events in which they talk about their visions for a better, cleaner future.  In Myanmar, that includes sharing the benefits of the high technology of Solar Impulse’s solar collectors with a country that lacks electricity in 70 percent of its …

Solar Impulse – More than Just Record Flights

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse 2, HB-SIB, is parked on the tarmac at Ahmedabad (Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, AMD/VAAH), fresh from its record-making flight from Oman.  Crew members pore over its mechanical and electrical components in preparation for its next flight to Varanasi, also in the Republic of India.  In the meantime pilots Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard share the message of their Future Is Clean organization and prepare themselves physically and spiritually for the voyage ahead. Apropos of their stopovers in India, Borschberg and Piccard have practiced Yoga as part of the physical discipline necessary for the grueling long-distance flights to come, and Borschberg is seen in one photo using a modern version of a traditional healing practice called Shirodhara, which …