Solar-powered flight aborted in Brussels

The Swiss aircraft Solar Impulse landed in Brussels on Saturday evening after the pilot aborted a flight to Paris following a series of technical problems.

This content was published on June 11, 2011 minutes

The plane took off on Saturday in cloudy conditions for its second international flight from Brussels for Paris but pilot Andre Borschberg turned back for the Belgian capital after a series of glitches.

Heavy rain and strong winds had already prevented it from taking off in the early hours of Saturday morning as scheduled.

The project's ground control team reported that Borschberg had had problems retracting the landing gear.

The crew said it hoped to have a weather window soon for a safe flight to Paris.

The plane is billed as a “special guest” at the International Paris Air Show, the biggest such show in the world, which runs from June 20 to 26.

Solar Impulse has been in Brussels since making its first international flight on May 13. The flight from Switzerland on that occasion took 13 hours. Specialists had been waiting for a favourable weather window for its onward flight since June 1.

The Solar Impulse control centre is based at the western Swiss aerodrome in Payerne.

Solar Impulse, the brainchild of Swiss round-the-world balloonist Bertrand Piccard, has the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400 and weighs 1,600kg – about the same as an average family car. Its electric motors obtain their energy from 12,000 solar cells mounted on the wings.

It made its first flight in April 2010, and its first night flight in July that year. The team hope to make a round-the-world flight in 2014.

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