The Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse made its first international voyage on Friday, flying from Switzerland to Belgium.
The aircraft started off at an airfield at Payerne in western Switzerland on Friday morning and landed at the Brussels airport 13-hours later -- a 300-mile journey.
According to press reports, during the flight, the pilot Andre Borschberg said on a live feed over the internet:The flight is going really well, I have just flown over Liege, it's a real pleasure to enter Belgian airspace. The view I have here is extraordinary. I'm above the clouds, for now I'm taking advantage of the blue sky.
The objective is to demonstrate what we can do with existing technology in terms of renewable energy and energy savings, Borschberg told Reuters during his flight.
Last July, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA model made flight history when it became the first manned solar-powered plane to fly around the clock and through the night. It flew for more than 26 hours above Switzerland at an altitude of 30,298 feet.
Borschberg piloted that aircraft as well.
However, whille solar planes have flown before, the flight through crowded airspace to a busy airport like Brussels was seen as a new evolution.
Flying an aircraft like Solar Impulse through European airspace to land at an international airport is an incredible challenge for all of us, and success depends on the support we receive from all the authorities concerned, said Borschberg.
The aircraft depends upon 12,000 solar cells to charge the batteries that supply the energy for the 10-horsepower electric motors that drives four propellers.
This time, we have a real airplane -- flying -- proof that new technologies can reduce our dependence on fossil energy, said Bertrand Piccard, joint founder and president of the Solar Impulse project.
Over the next few years, Solar Impulse plans more ambitious flights, including possibly voyages across the Atlantic and perhaps around the world.