Muscat: The solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2), which aims to fly around the globe without a drop of fuel, landed on Monday in Oman's capital Muscat, from where it will fly to India. The aircraft, which took off from Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, touched down in Muscat following a trouble-free 12-hour flight, Xinhua reported.
The landing marks the completion of the first leg of the plane's global circumnavigation. Piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg of Switzerland, the aircraft is believed to be an effort to demonstrate the promise of clean energy.
Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, Si2 will travel 35,000 km around the world in 25 days over the course of roughly five months. It will pass over the Arabian Sea, India, Myanmar, China and the Pacific Ocean. There will be 12 stops en route, which include stops at the Indian cities of Ahmedabad and Varanasi.
The aircraft is also likely to hover above the river Ganga in Varanasi to spread the message of cleanliness and clean energy. "We are proud that Muscat International Airport is the first stop for the Si2, the solar powered aircraft considered to be a ...step towards a more sustainable environment-friendly future with the use of clean energy," said Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al-Said, Advisor to Oman's Sultan Qboos.
"I hope the Si2 will motivate the next generation of Omanis to be more creative and innovative in order to develop our vision for the future," he added. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday congratulated the the team behind the Si2 project and wished them every success in their historic attempt.
"We take inspiration from their example and efforts to harness the power of multilateralism to address climate change and to inspire the world to achieve sustainable development through ...sustainable energy and renewable energy," he said. "With their daring and determination, we can all fly into a new sustainable future," he added.
The Si2 is an airborne laboratory and the largest aircraft of its kind ever built, with a weight equivalent to that of a small car. With a wing covered by more than 17,000 solar cells, the plane can fly up to an altitude of 8,500 metres at speeds ranging from 50 to 100 km per hour. After travelling around the globe, Si2 is expected to arrive back in Abu Dhabi in late July or early August.