Reuters International

Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane piloted by Swiss aviator Andre Borschberg, is seen as it prepares to land at Cairo Airport, Egypt July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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CAIRO (Reuters) - An airplane powered by energy from the sun arrived on Wednesday in Egypt, the penultimate stop on the first fuel-free flight around the globe.

Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, flew over the Pyramids to make a smooth landing at Cairo airport at about 7:10 a.m. (0510 GMT) ending a flight leg that lasted 48 hours and 50 minutes.

The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015 and is due to end it there, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.

Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. Surplus power is stored in batteries during the day to keep the plane aloft on long-distance flights.

The carbon fibre plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car, is unlikely to set speed records. It can climb to about 8,500 metres (28,000 feet) and cruise at 55-100 kilometres per hour (34-62 mph).

The Solar Impulse team will now prepare for the final leg of the journey to United Arab Emirates, they said.

(Reporting by Lila Hassan, Writing by Lin Noueihed, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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