SolarImpulse - Around The World patch.
9 March 2016
A strong team and favourable weather: the second maintenance flight has been successfully completed. After one week since Mission mode has switched on, we have already completed two flights and are progressing well.
The primary purpose of this latest flight was to ensure the aircraft’s systems work under high altitude conditions. The aircraft reached up to 28,000 feet, which is a high altitude flight for Solar Impulse. This altitude mimics the conditions of a regular long-duration flight during the Round-the-World tour when the aircraft must climb during long-duration flights in order to remain as energy efficient at night as possible. We were very pleased with the aircraft’s performance.
Image above: Bertrand Piccard Twitter post: "Seeing #Si2 takeoff always creates same emotion as the first time. I never get used to it".
The solar generators are switched on during the day to allow the batteries to store enough energy in order to prepare for the night. During the day, the aircraft climbs to a high altitude while the batteries charge to 100% so that during the night, the aircraft can cruise downwards, moving in the direction of its destination, without switching on the solar generators, and therefore saving energy. This is what a typical overnight flight path looks like:
During the flight, the engineers at the Mission Control Center in Monaco each performed maintenance checks on their area of expertise on the aircraft. Since this was a high altitude flight, the oxygen system activates above 12000 feet. Michael McGrath, responsible for the oxygen system on the aircraft, was active in the front room during this flight to monitor the oxygen system at high altitudes. The system functioned soundly.
Moreover, the engineers decided to reproduce a similar strain on the batteries as occurred during the Pacific flight in order to fully verify the efficiency of the new ventilation system. The results were positive - the batteries did not overheat and our test pilot, Markus, was able to regulate the temperature of the batteries easily and accurately.
Image above: André Borschberg Twitter post: "I piloted a helicopter chasing #Si2 today to test the photo material we will use over".
Overall, the flight performed extremely well. Now, we look forward to seeing our co-founders and pilots begin to fly, putting their signature in the sky - Bertrand’s flight is expected to take place sometime at the end of next week. Stay tuned!
What is Solar Impulse ?
Video above: The adventure showing clean technologies can change the world. If an airplane can fly day and night without fuel, everybody could use these same technologies on the ground to halve our world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life.
For more information about SolarImpulse - Around The World: http://www.solarimpulse.com/
Images, Video, Text, Credit: SolarImpulse.