Solar Impulse All-Nighter July 1

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse is set to attempt its first night flight on Thursday, July 1, 2010. Weather conditions are “Favourable for attempting the first night flight on solar energy,” according to the Solar Impulse web site.   “The situation continues to look good and the likelihood of seeing the HB-SIA take off on July 1st and land back in the early morning 2nd July is increasingly probable.” The Solar Impulse team will confirm the date 24 hours before take-off time.  Only accredited journalists will be allowed on-site to witness the event, so don’t head for the Payerne, Switzerland airbase, but follow the flights on the Internet at the project’s special Night Flight web page at www.solarimpulse.com. These flights are crucial to the ongoing aim of …

Solar Flight at Night

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Solar Impulse prototype, HB-SIA, will be making its first night flights within the next month, according to a June 15, 2010 press release from the project team. With eight successful flights to its credit, the airplane will attempt two critical missions according to the release: “the first night flight ever by a solar aircraft “the first ever complete cycle flight to validate the possibility of long-duration flights without any fuel” “’To fly day and night with a solar aircraft is a human and technological challenge that has never been met so far, and an essential stage of the project’, says André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse. ‘Demonstrating that we can fly a whole day and night will …

Solar Impulse Soars on Sunlight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Andre Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse Project, had this to say after he landed following the seventh flight of the Airbus-sized solar craft – but the first using its solar panels for power. “It was like a first encounter with the sun. After I had turned on the solar panel I could see the energy reserves increasing although the engines were continuously consuming power. Never before in my 40 years as a pilot have I experienced anything like this.” Martin Reichlin reported on the excitement of going solar on May 28’s second flight.  “A few minutes ago we could follow by radio how André switched on the four sectors of the round about 200 square meters of solar panels …

Solar Impulse – the Movie

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse’s first flight was recorded and edited in fine style, which we share here, courtesy of the Solar Impulse project and YouTube. Note the apparent crosswind on landing, and Marcus Scherdel’s masterful handling of it. Note also that both outboard motors are shut down during the landing. A mere zephyr has a large effect on this beautiful, large, extremely slow craft. As the project’s backers note, the airplane has the size of an Airbus, the weight of a compact car, and the power of a scooter.

An Hour and 27 Minutes in the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The press release and pictures tell a beautiful story.  The CAFE Foundation offers its congratulations to the Solar Impulse team. This morning (April 7, 2010) at 10:27, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne (VD) airfield on its maiden flight. Under the eyes of thousands of spectators from all over Switzerland, Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climbed up to 1200 meters. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarizing himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. “This first flight was …

Largest-Battery Powered Airplane Takes Flight

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Two weeks ahead of the 106th anniversary of controlled powered flight by the Wright Brothers, the Solar Impulse, HB-SIA broke its earthly bounds and flew 350 meters (about a quarter mile) at a height of about one meter.  Because the airplane does not yet have its solar panels mounted, the flight was made on battery power. Graphic © Solar Impulse/EPFL Claudio Leonardi The project’s press release leaves no doubt as to the importance, and the thrill, of the flight. “The results of the ground tests conducted these last few weeks to verify numerous parameters (the prototype’s controllability, acceleration, braking paths and, engine power) had been overwhelming positive, thereby leading the team to give the go-ahead to Markus Scherdel, the test pilot, to take the …

Solar Impulse Rollout and All Motors Running

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

November 6, 2009, Solar Impulse left its hangar and Markus Scherdel, the project’s test pilot, ran all four motors on the giant craft.  This marks the beginning of ground testing for HB-SIA.  “With its engines running at full power, it gave the impression of wanting to get off the ground straightaway …but it won’t be long now before we release the brakes and let it roll its first few meters,” said André Borschberg, co- founder of Solar Impulse.  The four motors achieved full power at 400 rpm. Bertrand Picard, the originator of the project, was equally enthusiastic. “For the whole team, the impression of seeing it completely assembled, majestically reigning over the Dübendorf tarmac was very intense!  We just can’t …

Solar Impulse to Begin Ground Testing

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

The Solar Impulse team is ready to begin ground testing of the Airbus-size solar airplane at Dubendorf Airfield, near Zurich, Switzerland.  On October 19, the project’s engineering team handed the craft over to the flight test crew, headed by Swiss Astronaut Claude Nicollier.  First flights will be under the control of Markus Scherdel, a professional test pilot and aerodynamics engineer. Testing is scheduled, subject to weather, between November 2 and December 20, 2009. According to the project’s press release, testing will take place in three steps, beginning with a first exit from the hangar, with on-ground testing of all four (10 hp) electric motors and a thorough check of all aircraft systems. Step two will involve high-speed taxi runs, “testing …