Solar Impulse - Airplane

Plane Characteristics

The piloted aircraft does not resemble a typical airplane. It has the wingspan of an Airbus but is around 100 times lighter. Probably the most remarkable aspect of Solar Impulse is that its only source of energy is the sunlight. And because the wingspan needs to accommodate an extremely large number of solar collection cells, there was considerable concern within the team over just how large a wingspan it could design.

With an understanding of the physics of flight, power-to-weigh, ratio, and the help of 3D engineering software similar to that used in Building Information Modeling (BIM), the design for the first prototype, Solar Impulse HB-SIA, was completed in 2009. While existing technologies were used for developing the prototype, its successor, Solar Impulse HB-SIB, was made from new materials and created with cutting-edge construction methods.

Discover Si2 (Solar Impulse 2)

  • The largest aircraft ever built with such a low weight
  • Wingspan of 72 m (236 ft.) – wider than that of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet
  • Weight of a car – 2300 kg (5070 lbs)
  • Maximum power of 70 hp (four 17.5 hp engines)
  • Average 24-hour power of a small motorbike – 15 hp – following optimization to the fullest extent of the entire energy chain
  • 17,248 solar cells
  • Max. cruising altitude 8500 m (28,000 ft.)
  • Minimum speed of 36 km / h (20 kts) at sea level and 57 km / h (31.5 kts) at maximum altitude
  • Maximum speed of 90 km / h (49 kts) at sea level and 140 km / h (77 kts) at maximum altitude
Plane Characteristics