The Solar Impulse 2, that as the name gives away, flies only with energy, got into some serious trouble. The team behind the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 plane on Tuesday said it needed an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) to complete a historic round-the-world flight, after battery damage grounded it for months.
In fact, Mr Bertrand Piccard, co-founder of the Solar Impulse project returned to Switzerland looking for €20 million (Dh80m) to repair the damage caused to Solar Impulse 2 as it flew to Hawaii.
“The Guardian” mentions: “The darkest moment of André Borschberg’s unprecedented solar flight across the Pacific was not when he learned of the battery failure that has now suspended the Solar Impulse flight until next spring”. It was 12 hours into the journey, as he flew about 6,000 metres over the Pacific, south-east of Tokyo, and a decision had to be made about whether to continue. “Before every flight you have what we call the point of no return – it was the afternoon of the first day,” he says.
A spokeswoman for the record-breaking project told AFP this figure was just an “initial estimation” and that the funds would cover the salaries of 150 people, logistics and material for the coming year.
The plane suffered irreversible damage to parts of its battery system during a gruelling, five-day journey from Japan to Hawaii.
“The engineers were very much against continuing the flight,” says Borschberg, a former Swiss air force pilot and entrepreneur. “I felt that in the cockpit I could manage this deficiency, I could cope with it using other systems. The weather window was very good, so I decided to go ahead with the flight, but it was a very emotional decision because part of the team was not OK with it.”
He says he thought of his wife and his three children – who are in their 20s and 30s. “I hoped that I was not taking too much risk – thinking of my family. Do I have the right to do this? I felt that this was the right decision, but you still go into the unknown – something that has not been done before, five days and five nights.” Pointing the plane towards Hawaii, Borschberg had a long night with his thoughts. “It took me the first night to digest it. At sunrise I put it behind me, and focused completely on crossing the Pacific.”
The Solar Impulse is currently parked at a hanger near to and monitored by the University of Hawaii.
Once repairs are completed, the plane is expected to cross the United States, stopping in New York before a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe.
From there, the pilots plan to make their way back to the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.