‘Signature in the Skies’ is set to visit India in April 2015

Come early next year and Indians will witness a spectacle in the skies as world's first day and night flying solar-powered wide bodied aircraft will fly into India as part of its round the globe journey.

Termed as ‘Signature in the Skies,’ the flying laboratory will provide Indian clean energy and aviation enthusiasts a lifetime experience. Switzerland based Solar Impulse, world’s first day and night-abled solar-powered aircraft is all set to visit India in April 2015.

Although the landing place and schedules are yet to be finalised, Solar Impulse CEO, André Borschberg told The Hindu that the plane would enter Asia through India from the West coast. The Indian city where the aircraft will make the first stop is yet to be finalised and the company was on the lookout for Indian partners. Following this the plane will make another halt in an airport towards the Eastern coast in India before leaving for Myanmar.

It is for the first time in history that an airplane has succeeded in flying night and day without fuel, powered by only solar energy. Record-breaking flights across Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and the United States brought worldwide attention to the Solar Impulse endeavour, launched by Bertrand Piccard and Mr. Borschberg, proving the enormous potential of clean technologies to protect the natural resources.

In its quest for the ultimate in technological innovation and symbolic force, Solar Impulse has set out to attempt what still seems impossible today: a round-the world flight powered by the sun.

Powered by 12,000 solar cells

Mr. Borschberg said the aircraft which will be unveiled in a few months from now, will make a round-the-globe trip next year, showcasing the latest technology in various countries, where it will have stopovers. The plane, weighing around 2,740 kg, will be powered by 12,000 solar cells and can fly at the speed of 70 km per hour. The aircraft will be powered by solar cells as thin as a hair. Solar Impulse solar cells are only 135 microns thin, like an average human hair. Around 144 ribs have been carefully placed at 50 cm intervals by the company engineers. The upper surface of the wings of the aircraft is made of solar panels and the lower part with an ultra light fabric. The wing spar is entirely made of carbon fibre honeycomb sandwich panels.

The around-the-world journey will be for three months, with the total flight time being 20-25 days and nights. The journey will begin somewhere in the Middle East and the flight's first destination will be India. “We are hopeful to having two stops in India. One of the West Coast and the other on the East Coast before the aircraft flies off to Myanmar. The longest non-stop flight of five days and five nights will be across the Pacific Ocean, he added.

The goal is to make an aircraft which has unlimited endurance. It is a human challenge also besides making the aircraft which is very efficient in energy and energy savings. “The goal is to inspire people especially the younger generation on what is possible, about the potential of technology. If we can use renewable energy on an airplane, we can certainly use it on the ground, where it is much more simple,” he said.

He said the aircraft has such technology which makes it efficient with reduced energy consumption that enables it to fly day and night continuously. The same technology can be used on buildings and cars, he said.