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Solar Impulse 2 takes off from New York to attempt the first electric, solar and zero-emission transatlantic flight

PUBLISHED: 10:02 21 June 2016 | UPDATED: 11:08 21 June 2016

'Solar Impulse takes-off from JFK International Airport' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0

'Solar Impulse takes-off from JFK International Airport' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0

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Solar Impulse 2 has now departed from JFK Airport, New York to continue its journey around the world. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will be attempting cross the Atlantic Ocean and land at Seville Airport in Spain on 23 June. The four day and four night flight will be non-stop and is expected to be one of the most challenging legs of the trip for the two pioneering pilots.

'Bertrand Piccard is ready for the take-off from JFK International Airport to cross the Atlantic' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0'Bertrand Piccard is ready for the take-off from JFK International Airport to cross the Atlantic' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0

The Solar Impulse 2 is the first electric, solar and emission-free transatlantic flight. The parallels with The Spirit of St. Louis solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean are striking, but while Lindbergh’s achievement sparked people’s interest in aviation, Solar Impulse aims to inspire adoption of clean technologies as way to improve the quality of life on Earth.

“André and the team have created more than a revolutionary airplane; they materialised my vision for the future of energy,” said Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse, currently at the controls of Si2. “Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight marked a new area in aviation and contributed to the progress of air transport on a large scale. With Solar Impulse, our aim is to encourage the deployment of clean technologies everywhere. If an airplane can fly day and night without fuel, everybody could use these same efficient solutions in their daily lives.”

'The plane that never sleeps, in the city that never sleeps. By Martin Saive' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0'The plane that never sleeps, in the city that never sleeps. By Martin Saive' Solar Impulse, Flickr CC 2.0

Last year, Borschberg landed Si2 in Hawaii after a record breaking flight of five days and nights over the Pacific Ocean, thereby proving that Solar Impulse can fly perpetually. Today, Piccard is taking the mission one step further. For years, transatlantic flights have been the proving ground for aeroplanes, gliders, balloons, steamboats and even windsurfs – a rite of passage that cements their maturity and usability. However, Solar Impulse is not only a means of transportation; it is an entire vision for the future of energy that is being proven over the Atlantic Ocean. More than an aviation first, this flight is a landmark in the history of renewable energy.

“With this flight over the Atlantic, we are further demonstrating Bertrand’s vision that clean technologies work and can be applied everywhere. We can now make our world more energy efficient. It’s not a question of technology anymore, it’s only a question of mindset: Solar Impulse is like a flying smart grid, and if we can make it work in an airplane, where we can’t cheat, we can make it work on the ground, in our cities, for our homes and for all applications,” commented André Borschberg, CEO, Co-Founder and Pilot of Solar Impulse.

During its stay in New York, Si2 was secured in a hangar supplied by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey whilst various key stakeholders such as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as Partners hosted a series of events for their employees, clients and customers. In addition, the Swiss Consulate, the New York Department of Education and the United Nations Environment Programme jointly welcomed more than 500 children to visit the airplane and meet the pilots. The team also received valuable support from the FAA, not only for the Statue of Liberty flyby, but also for all the mission flights across the United States.

“Action need not wait. As we see before us, innovation and experimentation will help us move into a sustainable future. The science used in this flight can also be put to use here on the ground. The plane’s technologies can help halve the world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his visit to the project.

After landing in Europe, the mission will go full circle to Abu Dhabi in the UAE where the adventure started in March 2015. By flying around the globe propelled solely by the energy of the sun, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are making history with clean technologies. Through innovation and pioneering spirit, their adventure proves that change is possible and that the hope for a usable, reliable clean energy in the future exists.

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