Solar Impulse 2’s maiden flight around the world has been hit by a series of delays in recent times. Before this major delay, the stormy weather at the Pacific forced it to abort the mission and in another incident, it did it again. This time, the weather isn’t at fault as the all-electric plane’s massive batteries that operate its engines have been damaged due to overheating. The major damage forces the mission to be delayed until April 2016.
The solar plane has a unique configuration, and most of its parts have been custom built for this purpose with the circumnavigated trip in mind. Its batteries are long lasting and covered with thick insulation to avoid interference. This, however, turned out to be the reason for the damaged batteries. While ascending on a steep course, the pilot expected a little too much power from the batteries and coupled with thick insulation, it resulted in overheating.
The event has been a big setback for the team trying to make history in this renewable energy powered aircraft. It has been classified as an evaluation error instead of technical or design one. But, they are not fazed. Such a unique aircraft will definitely present exclusive problems. They knew it when they took the job, and they want to see it to the end. Whether or not they complete the mission, they will still go on in the history of aviation and renewable energy as they have covered a record distance by any solar powered plane. They also covered the longest flight totaling five days from Japan to Hawaii during which they are believed to have experienced the damage.
Solar Impulse 2 has a wingspan larger than that of a Boeing 747, and it is made of a composite material lighter than paper. The 17,248 panels powering its propellers are the largest array of panels ever made for an aircraft. It can fly non-stop around the world if the unavoidable technical difficulties don’t present themselves unexpectantly!
So see you again in April Impulse! Fingers crossed for your next leg!