Technology & Science

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Spain after Atlantic Ocean flight

An airplane powered solely by the sun landed safely in Seville, Spain early Thursday after an almost three-day flight across the Atlantic from New York.

Aircraft left JFK in New York at 2:30 a.m. ET on June 20

The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2, piloted by Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard, is pictured before landing at San Pablo airport in Seville at sunrise on Thursday. (Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters)

An airplane powered solely by the sun landed safely in Seville in Spain early on Thursday after an almost three-day flight across the Atlantic from New York in one of the longest legs of the first ever fuel-less flight around the world.

The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 touched down shortly after 7:30 a.m. local time in Seville after leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport at about 2:30 a.m. ET on June 20.

Solar Impulse 2 Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard, right, celebrates with Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg at Sevilla airport after a 70-hour journey from New York, powered only by sunlight. (Cristina Quicler/AFP/Getty Images)

The flight of just over 71 hours was the 15th leg of the round-the-world journey by the plane piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.

"Oh-la-la, absolutely perfect," Piccard said after landing, thanking his engineering crew for their efforts.

"Initially the aviation industry told us it was impossible to build such an airplane, but we believed we could do it thanks to all our partners' technologies," Borschberg said in a statement.

Piccard said he and his partner hope "the flight symbolizes the flight from the old world to the new world."

"The challenge of the 21st century is to improve quality of life rather than conquer new territories," he said on Twitter on Wednesday.

The Solar Impulse 2 journey began over 15 months ago in Abu Dhabi. (CBC)

"The new world is the world of modern, clean technologies, the world of respect of the environment, the world of innovation, the world of pioneers," told a crowd that had gathered at Seville's airport.

With a cruising speed of around 70 kilometres an hour, similar to an average car, the plane has more than 17,000 solar cells built in to wings with a span bigger than that of a Boeing 747.

Solar Impulse 2 has a planned leg of about 120 hours to Abu Dhabi, where the global journey first began in March 2015.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.