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12 May 2011

1st international flight by Solar Impulse

The HB-SIA's first flight outside Swiss was a resounding success. The Solar Impulse softly lands after 12 hours and 59 minutes in the air.

 

19:30: The solar plane gets close to Brussels but thermal winds are still to important for a serene landing.

Airport responsible cooperate perfectly to allow a safe landing for the Solar Impulse. Unlike other planes, the HB-SIA’s landing needs a part-closing of the airport during half an hour and six people on the runway to help Solar Impulse’s landing.

20:00-21:00: The wind changes many times which modifies each time landing planes.

21:05: A thermal wind coming from the sea postpones the landing by half an hour.

21:30: Once the wind felt, the Solar Impulse positions itself on the runaway axis, lights switched on.

21:39: The HB-SIA softly lands after almost 13 hours of flight, only due to solar energy.

The party following this record is a great introduction to Green Week where Solar Impulse will be on the top of the news. Many events will be organized by Altran for this Brussels’ stop-over.

Friday May 13,2011 (18:15)
 
After Switzerland, France and Luxembourg, the solar plane is now flying upon Belgium. The Solar Impulse has already been in the air for 10 hours and everything is going perfectly well.

17:30: The plane flies just next to Liege before heading to North-east Brussels. A few times later, André gives many interviews directly from his cockpit. He seems very satisfied of his flight that he qualifies “quit, peaceful and very beautiful”. He flies upon the clouds, 3500 meters from earth, and contemplates the extraordinary landscapes under his eyes. Concerning the energy, André says ironically “I soak up so much energy that I don’t know where to put it!”

18:00: Sunset’s coming; the Solar Impulse will soon start to use the energy it has saved all day long in its batteries. Clouds are getting thinner above Brussels which confirms a landing a few times after 21:00, if the Air Traffic Control permits it.
 
Friday May 13, 2011  (14h15)

The prototype HB-SIA has been flying now for 6 hours above Europe. André Borschberg has already passed over Jura Mountains and Nancy; he keeps his trip ahead to Brussels. The atmosphere is serene, as well in the control room as in the air for André.

The new difficulty for this international flight is to succeed in clearing itself a safe path through the thick European air traffic. With a low average speed compared to other planes he crosses, the Solar Impulse is a specific case for the Air Traffic Control. Usually, the distance between two planes is 300 meters vertically and 8 kilometers if they are flying at the same flight level. In Solar Impulse case, the security distance has to be higher. A plane going above the HB-SIA will have to let 900 meters between them, because of the turbulences he creates. Those turbulences go down during around 5 minutes by 150 meters per minute speed before clearing themselves. 
 
Solar Impulse teams are in constant contact with Air Traffic Control for any change of route, as slight as it can be. Therefore, the Altran simulation team keeps on calculating all possible routes. 

Stay in touch with us to follow the second part of the flight.

 

Friday May 13, 2011  (10h15)

 Beginning of the trip to Brussels for Solar Impulse

 04:00: The technical team makes the HB-SIA prototype ready for its first flight beyond Swiss borders.

 05:30: The Solar Impulse team gathers for a last briefing before this long-awaited flight.

 07:00: The thick fog starts to clear and the sun can now pierce clouds. 

 07:50: André Borschberg, harnessed and equipped to resist to this challenge, heads to the plane he is going to pilot all day long.

 08:00: Time to routine check: air-brake, flaps, lighting and finally engine tests… The plane is ready to take off.

 08:40: Solar Impulse takes its flight for an historic trip ahead to Brussels. 

 André is flying over Neuchâtel Lake before going through Jura Mountains. 

Stay in touch with us to follow this first international flight that should last 12 hours.

Thursday  May 12, 2011 (17h30)

 A favorable weather window seems to be opening up for Friday 13 May 2011. Powered only by solar energy, Solar Impulse HB-SIA could make its first international flight to Brussels.

 06:00: Weather permitting, the prototype, piloted by André Borschberg, will take off from Payerne airfield and climb to an altitude of 3600 meters.

The plane will head for France, pass over Luxembourg and reach Belgium.

21:00: With clear air traffic and a decreasing risk of turbulence, Solar Impulse shall receive permission to land at Brussels Airport (Zaventem) where Bertrand Piccard and his team will impatiently wait for André. So the flight should last approximately 12 hours. 

The Altran “Modeling & Simulation” team led by Christophe Béesau is already working on the best route according to weather, air traffic control and energetic parameters. Tomorrow, they will also assist the flight from earth and they will calculate at any time the new possible routes according to unforeseen.