Solar powered plane flies non-stop for 20 hours

An aircraft of the size of an Airbus A340, fitted with 12,000 solar cells, took off from Madrid, Spain, flew about 800 km over the Mediterranean and arrived safely in Morocco, after flying non-stop for nearly 20 hours.

The aircraft, named Rabat Solar Impulse, left Madrid late Tuesday and landed at the Rabat airport Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

Made of carbon fibre, the plane is of the size of an Airbus A340, but only weighs as much as an average family car—about 1,600 kg.

The solar cells built into the wing provide four 10 horse-power electric motors with renewable energy. By day, the solar cells recharge the 400 kg lithium batteries, enabling the plane to fly at night.

The plane arrived in Madrid May 25 from Switzerland. Its two-leg Europe-Africa trip covers 2,500 km.

Wednesday’s flight was described by the organisers as a dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved plane in 2014.

The project began in 2003 and is estimated to cost about $100 million.



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