Update: Battery Problems Ground Solar Impulse
On its recent record-setting 4,480-mile flight from Japan to Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2's batteries over heated forcing the Swiss team to postpone the next leg until April 2016.
On Wednesday the team released a statement saying “The damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or a weakness in the technology” but rather a failure to estimate the drain of the rapid ascents and descents in a tropical environment on the batteries.
Pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg have been alternating legs of the around the world flight, but modifications to the batteries will take months and keep the plane grounded in Hawaii.
Powered by the sun and 17,000 solar cells the unique airplane flew non-stop for five days and 4,000 miles from Japan to Hawaii breaking the record for longest non-stop solo flight.
Not only was the Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) breaking new ground on the longest and most dangerous leg, but it also tested endurance of veteran Swiss Pilot André Borschberg.
The 62-year old pilot said he slept for 20 minutes at a time and practiced yoga to stay mentally alert. Borschberg told The Guardian
that the fourth day of this leg had been tough, after he “climbed the equivalent altitude of Mount Everest four times”.
His solo flight surpassed the previous record for longest solo endurance flight, set by Steve Fossett in 2006. Fossett flew for 76 hours and 45 minutes while Borschberg flew 120 hours.
The flight also set the record for longest non-stop solar-electric powered flight.
Since the SI2 can only hold one person, Borschberg's sharing the round-the-world trip with fellow Swiss pilot and visionary Bertrand Piccard.
The pair launched in March from Abu Dhabi, and expect to conclude their journey there later this summer.