Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB first aircaft around the world on solar powerSolar Impulse 2 HB-SIB first aircaft around the world on solar power

Solar Impulse is a Swiss long-range solar-powered aircraft project. It is led by Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, and Swiss businessman André Borschberg. The privately financed project hopes to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.

  • Role: Experimental solar-powered aircraft
  • National origin: Switzerland
  • Manufacturer: Solar Impulse
  • First flight: Solar Impulse HB-SIA 3 December 2009, Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB 2 June 2014
  • Number built: 2

Specifications Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 22.4 m (73.5 ft)
  • Wingspan: 71.9 m (236 ft)
  • Height: 6.37 m (20.9 ft)
  • Wing area: 17,248 photovoltaic cells (269.5 m2)
  • Loaded weight: 2,300 kg (5,100 lb)
  • Powerplant: 4 × electric motors, 4 lithium-ion batteries (633 kg), providing 13 kW (17.4 HP) each
  • Propeller diameter: 4 m (13.1 ft)
  • Take-off speed: 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph)


  • Maximum speed: 77 kts (140 km/h) 49 kts
  • Cruise speed: 90 km/h
  • Service ceiling: 8,500 m (27,900 ft) with a maximum altitude of 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)

Planned circumnavigation flight

The flight is expected to circle the world in the northern hemisphere; the closest it will get to the equator will be a flyby of Honolulu at 21.3° N. Five stops are planned to allow changes of pilots. Each leg of the flight will last three to four days, limited by the physiology of each pilot.

The route is expected to be as follows:

  • Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Oman
  • Across the Arabian Sea to Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India
  • Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Chongqing and Nanjing, China
  • Across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and then Phoenix, Arizona
  • New York
  • Across the Atlantic Ocean to either southern Europe or Morocco
  • Finally to Abu Dhabi