Written by Kumudu Jayawardana
02 Jun, 2014 | 4:32 pm
A solar-powered plane that will be taken on a round-the-world journey in 2015 has made its inaugural flight.
The Solar Impulse 2 vehicle lifted off from Payerne airfield in Switzerland at just after 03:35 GMT (04:35 BST; 05:35 CEST), returning two hours later.
It is a larger, upgraded version of the aircraft that flew across America last year with adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg at the controls.
For this maiden flight, test pilot Markus Scherdel was in the cockpit.
He climbed to just under 6,000ft (1,800m), conducting a number of manoeuvres to prove the handling of the aircraft.
Mr Scherdel reported some early vibrations, but overall the mission outcome appeared very positive.
“The initial results are in line with calculations and simulations,” read a later statement from the team.
Further flights will be conducted in the coming months in order for the experimental machine to attain certification.
“It’s a great day for all the team of Solar Impulse,” Mr Piccard told BBC News.
“An aeroplane like this is absolutely unique. And for the first time in history, we have an aeroplane that is flying with no fuel day and night, showing the incredible potential of the clean technologies – all these technologies that the world can also use in order to reduce the dependency to fossil fuel and to be cleaner and solve a lot of problems of pollution.”
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