First solar-powered intercontinental flight | News | DW | 05.06.2012
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First solar-powered intercontinental flight

The first intercontinental solar flight from Spain to Morocco is on schedule to arrive in Rabat around 10pm GMT. The experimental plane, called Solar Impulse, started its trip from Madrid at dawn.

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard is flying the single-seat aircraft, which is powered by 12,000 solar cells.

The plane passed the Moroccan border at 1445 GMT.

The flight to Morocco is the second leg of the journey, which started at Payerne airfield in Switzerland around two weeks ago.

The plane is powered by four electrical motors. It is roughly the size of a jumbo jet, but only weighs 1.6 metric tons, about as much as a mid-sized car.

Solar Impulse project president and pilot Bertrand Piccard (L) and CEO and pilot Andre Borschberg talk before take off at Payerne airport May 24, 2012.

Tuesday's flight is the Solar Impulse's longest

"The question is not to use solar power for normal airplanes," Piccard told the AFP news agency in an interview from the cockpit. "The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air of course everybody can do it on the ground."

The organizers say Tuesday's flight is intended as a dress rehearsal for a trip around the world with a new plane in 2014.

ncy/jm (AFP, dpa, AP)