Solar-powered plane stuck in Hawaii until 2016 because of "irreversible" damage to batteries

Solar Impulse 2 solar plane Hawaii
Promo image Solar Impulse

Historic solar flight around the world delayed

We've covered the Solar Impulse adventures extensively over the years (see the links at the bottom of this article), from the early test flights, to the first solar flight across a continent, to the current round-the-world record attempt. The team has faced many challenges so far, and not just technical glitches but potentially life-threatening conditions, but that's the lot of steely-eyed pioneers.

Solar Impulse/Promo image

Well, there's good news and bad news.

The bad news are that during the longest part of its global journey around the world, the 5-day flight to Hawaii from Japan, the solar plane's batteries overheated and sustained "irreversible" damage. Yikes.

The plane was supposed to be flying to Phoenix, Arizona, right about now, but that won't be possible any time soon.

The team said the temperature of the batteries during quick ascents and descents in a tropical climate was "not properly anticipated."

"The damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or a weakness in the technology," the team said. "Setbacks are part of the challenges of a project which is pushing technological boundaries to the limits."

Solar Impulse 2 weighs about as much as a car and has a wingspan larger than that of a standard Boeing 747. The wings contain 17,000 solar cells that power four electric motors. The solar cells recharge lithium batteries that allow the plane to fly at night.(source)

The repairs are expected to take several months, pushing back the rest of the flight to probably 2016.

The good news? They are in Hawaii. What better place to be stuck for several months? In fact, if the integrity of the Solar Impulse team wasn't beyond reproach, I'd almost suspect that they decided to get a little R&R time and blame it on the batteries (I'm kidding, don't send angry letters).

Here's a video produced by the Solar Impulse team about their flight to Hawaii:

The 13-leg flight around the world begun in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in early March 2015.

Via LA Times

Tags: Airplanes | Air Travel | Hawaii | Solar Energy | Solar Power | Solar Technology


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