Solar Aircraft Completes an Atlantic Crossing

June 30, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Bertrand Piccard has successfully completed a non-stop flight across the Atlantic in his aircraft Solar Impulse 2, powered entirely by solar energy. The pilot landed Solar Impulse 2 safely in Seville, Spain, on 23rd June at 7:28 a.m. local time. The achievement places Piccard as a worthy successor to Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to complete a solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927. The pioneering project by the "modern Lindbergh" was made possible by a number of contributions, including advanced materials manufactured by Vacuumschmelze GmbH and Co. KG (VAC). The electric motors of Solar Impulse 2 use the soft magnetic alloy ULTRAVAC® 44 V6 and permanent magnets made of VACODYM® 655 HR.

After the Pacific crossing, the flight from New York to Seville was the second major leg of the solar aircraft’s global circumnavigation. Piccard took 71.08 hours, or almost three days, to cover the route of 6,765 km, using 1,388 kWh of power in the process – provided entirely by solar energy. Since embarking on its round-the-world journey, the renewable energy-powered Solar Impulse 2 has completed a total distance of 36,602 km.

VAC's ULTRAVACÃ’ 44 V6 alloy, at a thickness of only 0.1mm, is used in the lamination stacks of the aircraft's motor stator and rotor. The rotor contains magnetic systems comprising bonded segments of VACODYM 655 HR. By thus assembling magnetic systems from small individual magnets, eddy current losses in the rotor can be reduced and the motor efficiency can be increased to 98%.

The round-the-world solar-powered flight has two ambitious objectives. One is naturally to break the world record for the longest non-stop solo flight. However, pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are additionally seeking to highlight their message of “Future Is Clean”. The initiative is directed at changing the world by making use of available environmentally friendly technologies and drive systems – and proving that they already work today by providing clear demonstrations of their effectiveness.

Contrary to popular belief, Charles Lindbergh was not the first person to complete a trans-Atlantic flight. The first non-stop flight across the Atlantic was performed as early as 1919 by John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown. However, Lindbergh was the first to fly non-stop from New York to Paris and the first to complete a solo trans-Atlantic flight – just as Piccard was the sole pilot in his own record-breaking flight. VAC congratulates him on this great pioneering achievement of modern times!