Solar Impulse completes world first solar flight around globe

05 August 2016

Solar Impulse has complete its flight around the globe. The mission, which began in 2003, was completed in 17 legs covering almost 40,000 km. The project was supported by a number of partners, including professional services firm Altran.

While flight has drawn the imagination of generations of human beings, powered flight remains a costly exercise in carbon emissions. To prove the possibility of solar powered flight, even if the scale of the technology remains limited, the Solar Impulse project was born in Switzerland in 2003. The project, the brain child of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, aimed to combine exploration, environmental stewardship and technological development in a round the world flight in a plane powered by the sun. The mission to fly around the world in a solar powered aircraft has been completed. The flight, over 17 legs spread across 16½ months, covered almost 40,000 km.

Altran - SolarImpulse

The project, with a final cost of more than €150 million, was supported by a range of main partners, including Solvay, Moega, Schindler and ABB. Professional services firm Altran was one of the project’s official partners. The firm has worked on the project since 2003. Throughout the development and attempt, the firm provided the project with a broad range of technical services, delivered by 40 international staff, which included a permanent six member team at the mission’s Monaco and Spain Mission Control Centre during the mission attempt.

In particular, the firm supplied three areas of technical support to the mission, including the creation of more than a 100 billion flight plans, the development of an autopilot system to provide stability throughout long flight periods, and safety and compliance studies to make sure that the flight met international standards.

Dominique Cerutti, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Altran, says, “For Solar Impulse to take to the air, our engineers developed innovative solutions that reflect the complexity of the project. In addition to providing expertise, Altran is personally devoted to the initiative and proud of its commitment to this unique enterprise intended to promote clean technologies. On behalf of the Group, I would like to congratulate Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg for their accomplishment, and my thanks go out to all the Altran experts who contributed to this successful outcome.”

A spokesperson for the project remarks, “The record breaking solo flight of 5 days and 5 nights without fuel from Nagoya to Hawaii gives a clear message: everybody could use the plane’s technologies on the ground to halve our world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life. This message will continue to be spread by the pilots to the general public, students, key decision-makers and entrepreneurs all over the world.”