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Penultimate flight Solar Impulse sets off for Cairo

Solar Impulse flies over the Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant in Seville, Spain after taking off early on July 11

(Keystone)

The history-making solar-powered plane has taken off from Seville to Cairo on the penultimate leg of a round-the-world trip which began in March 2015. Solar Impulse is due to end its globe-circling voyage in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. 

Swiss pilot André Borschberg took off in Solar Impulse 2 at 6.20am (CET) from the southern Spanish city of Seville for Egypt. 

The flight, Borschberg’s last in the huge aircraft, should take 50 hours and 30 minutes. 

The 4,000-kilometre journey should take him across the Mediterranean, via the airspaces of Algeria, Tunisia, Malta, Italy, Greece, and finally land in Egypt. 

It is the penultimate leg of the world tour of Borschberg and Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard. Their final destination and starting point is Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. 

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It is the first time a solar-powered plane has made such a journey using zero fuel and zero emissions, organizers said. 

The wings of Solar Impulse 2, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night. The two Swiss adventurers take it in turns to fly the aircraft, which only has room for a single pilot in its 3.8 m3 cockpit.

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