PAYERNE, Switzerland (AFP) - The Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse on Thursday took off for Morocco on its first intercontinental flight attempt without using a drop of fuel.
Pilot Andre Borschberg successfully launched the plane from an airfield in Payerne in western Switzerland at around 8:30am (0630 GMT), bound for Rabat via Madrid, after a two-hour delay due to foggy conditions. If successful the 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) journey would be the longest to date for the craft after an inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels last year.
The high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a large airliner but weighs no more than a saloon car, is fitted with 12,000 solar cells feeding four electric engines. Borschberg was expected to land at Madrid’s Barajas airport at about 1:00 am on Friday for a three-day technical stopover, organisers said.
Checks would be carried out and depending on the weather conditions second pilot Bertrand Piccard would depart for Rabat on Monday.