The first attempt to fly around the world in a plane that is powered only by solar energy began early this morning in Abu Dhabi.
The Solar Impulse project, which has been in design and development for over 12 years, is the result of the pioneering spirit of its co-founders – Swiss aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, and Swiss businessman André Borschberg.
The project’s first plane – Solar Impulse 1 – was a test bed for the complex new technologies, while the second Solar Impulse will carry the mission forward by flying around the world, making 12 stops over five months, with a total flight time of around 25 days.
To design, build, and validate this second solar airplane, Solar Impulse’s design team has used Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, including its CATIA and ENOVIA applications.
The team faced new challenges and trade-offs in designing such an innovative plane, including a new design for the fuselage and wings, and using new materials to achieve strict weight objectives. Additionally, the cockpit needed to provide safety, comfort, and command accessibility for a pilot on an around-the-world flight.
Solar Impulse 2, powered by the sun and Dassault Systèmes
“For over a century, pioneers have been pushing the limits of aviation and transforming ideas into ‘firsts,’ from the first human flight to balloon flights and space missions once thought to be impossible,” says Borschberg.
“We continue to apply this entrepreneurial spirit to engineering and research programs that blend 21st century technologies like the 3DEXPERIENCE platform with a mission to improve mankind’s impact on the environment.”
Piccard adds, “We had to be right the first time. We needed proven, cutting edge industry solutions to craft the experience for which we were looking. That’s why we went to Dassault Systèmes and its 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
“An experience perspective is exactly what we needed when creating an airplane to achieve such long flights. We’re in the cockpit for five days at a time. Everything, from the propulsion, to the electronics, to the crew facilities needs to be considered, planned, integrated and implemented for such a flight to be successful.”
“This is about more than just serving the needs of a customer,” said Michel Tellier, Vice President, Aerospace & Defense Industry, Dassault Systèmes.
“It’s more than just an airplane, Solar Impulse is a message. The Solar Impulse project is showing the world that alternative, clean energy can be safe and viable in the most extreme circumstances and that it has the power to change the world.”
To follow Solar Impulse’s round the world flight, progress will be updated on its website. Videos can of the team’s progress can also be viewed on its youtube channel (like the latest one below).