Solar Impulse abandons Pacific crossing amid poor weather



Solar Impulse, the solar-powered aircraft attempting the first round-the-world solar flight, has been forced to abandon its attempt at crossing the Pacific Ocean amid poor weather conditions.

Having travelled from Abu Dhabi to Nanjing, China, the aircraft had been scheduled to fly to Hawaii before continuing across the US over the coming weeks.

The Solar Impulse team has however been forced into a number of postponements with favourable weather conditions a crucial element of the crossing, which is the longest single flight of the trip.

The aircraft needs favourable tail winds and enough sunlight during the day to charge its batteries for flying at night and the Solar Impulse team had been waiting in Nanjing for a month waiting for an ideal weather window, which it thought had been identified this week.

Pilot Andre Borschberg took off at 18:39 GMT on Saturday and was 36 hours into an expected six-day flight before updated weather forecasts suggested that the flight was in jeopardy.

The aircraft has subsequently been re-routed to Nagoya, Japan, where it will land later today before waiting for more favourable weather conditions.

“The pilot and the aircraft are safe, and safety is the priority. For the next few hours André will continue to fly at a high altitude, the batteries are full and we have very good conditions for an evening landing; we could even hold for a couple of hours for clearance to land,” the Solar Impulse team said in a statement.

“It’s a delay that is disappointing to us but, on the other hand, we are extremely happy with the performance of the aircraft. André’s flight will have lasted around 40 hours and this will be the longest flight ever made by a solar-powered airplane in terms of both duration and distance.”

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