Solar Impulse 2: the commitment to a vision

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Solar Impulse continue their joint quest to spark innovation and advance renewable energy with the unveiling of Solar Impulse 2.

Payerne, Switzerland was the perfect setting for the unveiling of Solar Impulse 2, the airplane which in 2015 will undertake the ultimate technological and symbolic adventure of flying around the world using only solar power.

The new plane was presented to project partners, media, government officials and special guests by the co-founders and pilots Dr Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. It took 12 years of calculations, simulations, construction and testing to arrive at the launch of Solar Impulse 2 – one of the most technologically advanced aircraft of our time.

How to enable a vision

In 2012 Swiss Re Corporate Solutions became the sole insurer of Solar Impulse. The new plane follows the path of the first prototype, which was considered uninsurable by others and yet achieved huge success, including the first coast-to-coast crossing of the US by a solar airplane.

"A vision counts for nothing unless it is backed up by action," said Piccard, founder and Chairman of Solar Impulse. "We have shown that clean technologies and renewable energies can accomplish the impossible."

Agostino Galvagni, CEO Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, said, "Insurance plays an important role in supporting pioneering projects in the renewable energy sector. We believe that advancing renewable energy and clean technologies, and establishing them as integral components of the global energy mix, is crucial to ensuring a sustainable future. The intent of the Solar Impulse - Swiss Re Corporate Solutions partnership is to endorse and promote this message."

'You're clear for take-off'

During the round table discussion at the unveiling ceremony, Galvagni presented Piccard and Borschberg the new insurance certificate covering Solar Impulse 2. "As of today, the plane is officially insured – you're clear for take-off," Galvagni commented humorously.

That's not a minor detail for a technological marvel which, in order to complete the round-the-world flight, will have to accomplish what no other aircraft has achieved before: flying without fuel with only one pilot for five consecutive days and nights over oceans from one continent to another.

"Solar Impulse 2 will have virtually unlimited autonomy, and now we need to make sure the pilot is as sustainable as his aircraft," added Borschberg, co-founder and CEO of Solar impulse. "This is why the round-the-world flight will be as much a human as a technological feat."

Size does matter

The single-seater solar aircraft has a huge wingspan of 72 meters (236 ft) for its weight of just 2,300 kg (5,000 lbs), producing an aerodynamic performance and energy efficiency greater than anything to date. There is a 3.8 m3 cockpit, every detail of which has been designed for a pilot to live there for a week. However, for the sake of maximum energy efficiency, the cabin is not pressurized or heated – a further endurance challenge for the pilot.

The attempt to make the first round-the-world solar-powered flight is scheduled to start in March 2015 from the Middle East Gulf region. Solar Impulse will fly, over the Arabian Sea, India, Burma, China, the Pacific Ocean, the US, the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe or North Africa before closing the loop by returning to the departure point. Landings will be made every few days to change pilots and organize public events for governments, schools and universities.

Watch the unveiling of Solar Impulse and learn more about the plane below.

Photo Gallery

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