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'Solar Impulse' begets 'Climate Impulse'

Aircraft being built for 2028 nonstop circumnavigation

Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss explorer and pilot who has circumnavigated the Earth by balloon and solar-powered airplane, announced February 7 his next project will be to fly nonstop around the world in a hydrogen-powered aircraft being built in France by engineer and navigator Raphaël Dinelli.

The Climate Impulse project was unveiled online, with a video posted on YouTube (above) and a press release on the website that explained the plan in broad strokes, including the backing of composite materials maker Syensqo, which also supported the Solar Impulse circumnavigation that was launched in 2015 and completed the following year. Solar Impulse landed in New York on June 11, 2016, having overcome numerous challenges including weather that damaged the gossamer airframe powered by 17,000 solar cells charging batteries that turned the motors through the night.

"After two years of research, development and design supported by Airbus, Daher, Capgemini and with the participation of Ariane Group, the construction of the aircraft has begun and will last two years," the organization stated in the release, noting that Solar Impulse was both a symbol for renewable energy and climate action, and the inspiration for more than 1,500 "efficient solutions" that have since been "identified and labeled by the Solar Impulse Foundation, certifying their environmental benefit and economic viability."

Climate Impulse seeks to continue the mission, showcasing new technologies that could revolutionize aviation.

"In this world full of eco-anxiety, we need to restore hope and stimulate action by demonstrating disruptive solutions that lead to sustainable progress. More than flying around the world with a hydrogen airplane, Climate Impulse will explore new ways of thinking and acting to promote a better quality of life," Piccard said. “Efficient solutions will unite people from citizens and environmental activists to political and business leaders, shifting the narrative from sacrifice and fear to enthusiasm and action."

The website and video include renderings and images that suggest a twin-boom aircraft with a centerline pod suspended between the booms housing the crew.

Jim Moore
Jim Moore
Managing Editor-Digital Media
Digital Media Managing Editor Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.

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