Solar Impulse 2’s historic mission to become the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the globe and to showcase that clean technologies can achieve the impossible was successfully achieved with the logistics support of Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr Airlines.
The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) project chose Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr to provide comprehensive logistical assistance with the provision of both Cargo & Passenger chartered aircraft to transport spare parts, mobile hangar and the technical team to support the record-breaking round-the-world trip which started in March 2015 and came to a triumphant conclusion at the end of last month. The aircraft landed back in Abu Dhabi on 26 July 2016 after completing 23 days of flight and covering a distance of 43,041km over the course of its 17-leg journey.
In addition to providing the Solar Impulse team with highly-responsive support aircraft including a Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ IL-76TD-90VD and an ATR-72 for the mission, Chapman Freeborn’s Wings 24 in-house flight support team helped to manage the project’s operations, ranging from flight permits and customs clearances to ground handling and immigration arrangements for the transport airplanes.
The accompanying support aircraft were responsible for transporting over 25 tonnes of technical equipment as well as flying crew members and personnel throughout the mission. This required significant flexibility by Volga-Dnepr, which ensured an IL-76TD-90VD was on standby ready to support Solar Impulse 2 and be mobilized at extremely short notice.
Pierre van der Stichele, Cargo Business Development Director at Chapman Freeborn, said: “Chapman Freeborn is honoured to have provided specialist support for the Si2 mission throughout its journey around the world. The challenge for all innovators is doing things that have not been done before – so we’re extremely proud to have been involved in this aviation industry first. The project required all of our global charter market expertise as we were working around Si2’s changeable flight schedules - with support solutions required in Asia, North America, Europe, and North Africa. We would also like to thank Volga-Dnepr for its professionalism for assisting in ensuring the cargo always reached its destination safely and on time.”
Georgy Sokolov, Regional Sales Manager at Volga-Dnepr Airlines, added: “Volga-Dnepr Group is strongly committed to improving the environmental efficiency of its fleet and to embracing all levels of aviation innovation so it was a special pleasure for us to play a long-term role in the historic achievement of the Solar Impulse 2 team. This demanded a level of flexibility far beyond a usual charter operation as we had to be ready to mobilize our aircraft at extremely short notice. It was also appropriate that the modernized IL-76TD-90VD supporting Si2 features significantly improved operating efficiencies and lower emissions. As an industry, we must always be evaluating new technology that can make flying greener and more efficient and right now, in terms of showing what aviation may look like in the future, there is no better example than Solar Impulse 2.”
About Solar Impulse
Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (President) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and life force behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft able to fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions.
Supported by partners Solvay, Omega, Schindler, ABB, Google, Altran, Bayer Material Science, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Swisscom amongst others, Solar Impulse has been a history making project in the world of exploration and the world of renewable energies.
The Si2 aircraft has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747) for a weight of just 2,300 Kg, equivalent to that of a car. The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.
On the longest leg of the journey, Borschberg, 63, smashed the record for the longest uninterrupted journey in aviation history with the 8,924 kilometre flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii that lasted nearly 118 hours.
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