Achieving the impossible

“All that is impossible remains to be achieved.”

-Jules Verne

 HB-SIA prototype, ©Le Truc/Solar Impulse

HB-SIA prototype, ©Le Truc/Solar Impulse

This inspiring quote runs in the banner on the Solar Impulse homepage.  And today, Solar Impluse unveils a seemingly impossible project – the HB-SIA solar-powered aircraft prototype.

As an active supplier in the Airports industry, constantly on the look-out for innovative solutions to reduce the industry’s environmental impact, this is encouraging news for Cavotec.  The project is in part sponsored by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) of which we are a Strategic Partners, so we are keen on following the development of this monumental venture.

Solar cells on wing surface ©Le Truce/Solar Impulse

Solar cells on wing surface ©Le Truc/Solar Impulse

The prototype unveiled today represents a trade-off between weight and performance.  Currently, the HB-SIA has a wingspan of 61 metres, a weight of just 1,500 kg and has room for a pilot only.  The upper surfaces of the wings are embedded with 12,000 photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity.  It flies relatively slowly, at about 70kph in windless conditions.  However, if the prototype succeeds in flying through the night, the design of its successor, the HB-SIB will be finalised.

The first test flight isplanned for later in the year.

For more information about the HB-SIA, the June 13th edition of the Economist features an artcile on the projoect, or visit the Solar Impulse website.

What do you think?  Is today forever marked as the day the Airports industry started anew?