A world record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane has got under way from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The aircraft – called Solar Impulse-2 – took off from the capital of Emirate, heading east to Muscat in Oman. Over the next five months, it will skip from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in the process, BBC reported.
Andre Borschberg was at the controls of the single-seater vehicle as it took off at 07:12 local time (03:12 GMT).
He will share the pilot duties in due course with fellow Swiss, Bertrand Piccard.0
The company says the plane has a 72-meter (236-foot) wingspan, larger than that of the Boeing 747, but weighs about as much as a car at around 2,300 kilograms (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, Arizona, 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 August.
Before taking off, Borschberg told BBC News: “I am confident we have a very special aeroplane, and it will have to be to get us across the big oceans. “We may have to fly for five days and five nights to do that, and it will be a challenge.
“But we have the next two months, as we fly the legs to China, to train and prepare ourselves.”
Monday’s leg to Oman will cover about 400km and take an estimated 12 hours.
The price of solar electric panels fell 70% in recent years and costs are expected to halve again this decade. And Deutsche Bank forecasts that, based on current fossil fuel prices, solar will produce power as cheaply as gas in two thirds of the world before 2020.