Solar plane leaves for second Chinese destination

Beijing: Solar Impulse (Si2), the solar-powered aircraft on a mission to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel, left for its second Chinese destination on Tuesday.

The aircraft, piloted by the Swiss project chairman Bertrand Piccard, departed from southwest China’s metropolitan of Chongqing to to the eastern city of Nanjing, Xinhua news agency reported.

It had reached Chongqing on March 31.

Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, the single-seater Si2, which started its journey from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 9, will travel 35,000 km around the world.

Co-pilot Andre Borschberg was scheduled to fly the plane on its next leg from Chongqing. However, he had to return to Switzerland because of health problems.

In the past months, the Si2 set two world records for manned solar-powered flight.

The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey — that of 1,468 km between Muscat in Oman and Ahmedabad in India.

The second was for a groundspeed of 117 knots (216 kmph), which was achieved during the flight from Varanasi in India to Myanmar’s second largest city of Mandalay.

After travelling around the globe, the Si2 is expected to arrive back in Abu Dhabi.