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First Solar powered Airoplane: Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar powered aircraft project being undertaken at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

The project eventually hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power. The project is led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop,and Swiss businessman André Borschberg. 

Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA in Dübendorf during its first "flea hop" test flight on 3 December 2009.
Experimental solar powered aircraft
National origin
Solar Impulse Project
First flight
3 December 2009

The first aircraft, bearing the Swiss aircraft registration code of HB-SIA, is a single-seater monoplane, capable of taking off under its own power, and intended to remain airborne up to 36 hours.This aircraft first flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly 9 hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight on 7–8 July 2010.Building on the experience of this prototype, a slightly larger follow-on design (HB-SIB) is planned to make a circumnavigation of the globe in 20–25 days. This flight was initially planned for 2014, but following a structural failure of the aircraft's main spar during static testing, a more likely date is 2015.

Design and development

Piccard initiated the Solar Impulse project in 2003. By 2009, he had assembled a multi-disciplinary team of 50 specialists from six countries, assisted by about 100 outside advisers.


  • 2003: Feasibility study at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.
  • 2004–2005: Development of the concept.
  • 2006: Simulation of long-haul flights.
  • 2006–09: First prototype (HB-SIA).
  • 2009: First flight of prototype.
  • 2009–11: Manned test flights with prototype.
  • 2011–12: Further test flights.


  • 2011–12: Construction of second prototype (HB-SIB).
  • 2012: Multi-day missions and crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 2013: Attempt of world tour in several stages. 

Some Photographs/ Images  


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