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Solar Impulse 2 Record-breaking solar plane back in Switzerland

The Swiss plane Solar Impulse 2 has come back to Switzerland after finishing its round-the-world flight. (Carlo Pisani, swissinfo.ch)

The plane covered more than 40,000 km (24,800 miles) in 16 months, becoming the first solar-powered aircraft to fly around the planet without the use of fuel.

Solar Impulse 2 left Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015 and returned on July 26, 2016, completing the record-breaking circumnavigation of the earth after 550 hours in the air.

Along the way, the solar aircraft stopped off in 17 destinations. Poor weather conditions and technical problems with the batteries grounded the plane in Hawaii from July 2015 to April 2016.

On Tuesday, Solar Impulse 2 landed back at the military airport in Dübendorf, canton Zurich after being transported from Abu Dhabi in a 747 cargo aircraft.

The project had an overall budget of CHF170 million ($177 million). Solar Impulse’s many partners included the Swiss government, which granted Solar Impulse the use of two airbasesexternal link

To date, the Solar Impulse project has notched a number of solar-powered firsts and achievements, including the first night flight, the first intercontinental flight, the first ocean crossing, the longest distance and duration. And Swiss pilot André Borschberg carried out the longest-ever solo flight for any pilot in any aircraft, when he was up in the air for more than 117 hours.

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