Solar Impulse grounded for repairs

Solar Impulse 2 will be grounded in Hawaii until early next month to undergo maintenance repairs following its recent record-breaking, five-day non-stop oceanic flight.

Overheated batteries have grounded Solar Impulse 2 in Hawaii as replacements will take at least two weeks to complete. AP Photo
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Solar Impulse 2 will be grounded in Hawaii until early next month to undergo maintenance repairs following its recent record-breaking, five-day non-stop oceanic flight.

The solar-powered aeroplane of Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg sustained damage to its batteries when they overheated while completing the longest and most difficult leg – from Japan to Hawaii – of the round-the-world flight.

During the first ascent of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature increased because of too much insulation.

While the mission control team monitored the issue there was no way of reducing the temperature for the remainder of the flight because each daily cycle required an ascent to 28,000 feet and descent for energy-management issues.

The damage to certain parts of the batteries is irreversible and requires repairs and replacements that will take several weeks to complete.

The Solar Impulse engineering team is looking at various options for improved management of the cooling and heating process for long flights.

The team does not see the possibility for any flights before two weeks at the earliest, it said.

Solar Impulse is attempting the first round-the-world solar-powered flight to inspire innovation and pioneering spirit and encourage the adoption of clean technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Having started in Abu Dhabi in early March, the plane has completed eight legs covering nearly 18,000 kilometres.

The Masdar-sponsored plane is expected to complete its mission back in Abu Dhabi after completing its final five flights later this year.

newsdesk@thenational.ae