Cargolux has returned the Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse to Switzerland aboard one of its Boeing 747 freighters.
In February 2013, Cargolux successfully flew Solar Impulse from Payerne, a Swiss military airfield, to the U.S. West Coast, from where the solar-powered aircraft was deployed for its ‘Across America’ mission from San Francisco to New York, including five stopovers on the way. In a unique, high-precision operation, the large Cargolux freighter landed and took off from the short runway at Payerne and had to be loaded on the runway itself, because the airfield’s small apron could not handle the large Boeing freighter.
The return flight from New York touched down early morning at Dübendorf, another Swiss military airfield near Zurich.
Solar Impulse is the first solar-powered aircraft able to fly day and night. It has already achieved five world records, including the record for the longest day and night solar-powered flight at 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
“The first prototype of Solar Impulse is able to fly across a continent, but not yet an ocean,” said Bertrand Piccard, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse). “This is why, after the success of the Across America mission, it’s been repatriated to Europe on board of a cargo aircraft. But the second version, the HB-SIB, will fly over the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans on its way around the world in 2015. For this, we will really have to push the use of clean technologies in their ultimate application.”