Solar Impulse Experimental Plane Heads to Spain From Switzerland

Solar Impulse Airplane
Photographer: Laurent Gillieron/Keystone/AP Photo

The experimental sun-powered Solar Impulse airplane departed from the Swiss airfield of Payerne en route tonight for Madrid’s Barajas Airport, piloted by Andre Borschberg, the flight organizers said today in an e-mail.

The lightweight plane has almost 12,000 solar cells, lithium batteries powering four engines and a wingspan about that of an Airbus 340. At least a three-day stop is planned in Madrid before the craft is piloted on May 28 at the earliest to Rabat, Morocco, by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, the organizers said.

Sponsors of the 100 million-franc ($115 million) project to fly day and night using no fuel include Deutsche Bank AG, Solvay SA of Belgium, Schindler Holding AG and Swatch Group’s Omega brand.

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