• Switzerland edition
 
Headwinds force Swiss pilot to abort solar flight
Solar Impulse/Stéphane Gros (File)

Headwinds force Swiss pilot to abort solar flight

Published: 14 Jun 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00
Updated: 14 Jun 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00

Strong headwinds Wednesday forced the Solar Impulse to abort its toughest flight yet across Morocco, a week after it made history with the world's first inter-continental solar-powered flight.

The Solar Impulse team said it was drawing up a new itinerary for the challenge in Morocco's desert after the plane made a U-turn almost eight and a half hours into the 16-hour flight from Rabat to the city of Ouarzazate.

After the experimental plane arrived back at Rabat shortly before midnight (2155 GMT) on Wednesday, Solar Impulse spokeswoman Alexandra Gindroz told AFP:

"We are studying the meteorological conditions to choose another attempt for Ouarzazate or another solution."

The mission said earlier on the Solar Impulse website that the plane and pilot Andre Borschberg "are not in danger, but (the headwind) is hindering the advancement of the Solar Impulse to its final destination."

"The flight director has made the decision to turn back to the departure airport Rabat," it said.

The turnaround underlined how vulnerable the giant high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a jumbo jet but weighs no more than a medium-sized car, is to natural weather conditions.

The pilot has a parachute in his tiny cockpit.

Fitted with 12,000 solar cells feeding four electric motors, the Swiss-built plane flies without using a drop of fuel.

Last week, it flew into history books as it completed the world's first inter-continental flight by a solar plane, flying from Spain to Morocco, a feat that capped a string of other firsts, including the first manned plane to fly around the clock on the Sun's energy in July 2010.

It also holds the record for the longest flight by a manned solar-powered plane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, and has also set a record for altitude by flying at 9,235 metres (30,298 feet).

Ahead of Wednesday's flight, organizers said it would be the "most difficult the plane has ever undertaken due to the hot and dry nature of the climate as well as the proximity of the massive Atlas mountains" which tower up to more than 3,000 metres.

Flying above the Moroccan sand dunes -- the backdrop to the 1962 British cinema epic "Lawrence of Arabia" -- poses particular challenges such as thermal currents, strong winds and thunderstorms.

Earlier in the day, Borschberg had told AFP by satellite phone that the flight was going well and that he was planning to follow the coast, passing Casablanca and Marrakech -- at the foot of the Atlas mountains, before reaching Ouarzazate.

But he had also said he expected strong winds later in the evening in the Atlas region.

Last month, the solar-powered aircraft made the 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) journey from Madrid to Rabat, its longest to date, after an inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels last year.

The flights are intended as a rehearsal for the goal of a round-the-world trip in 2014 by an updated version of the plane.

The flight is live-streamed on the project's website www.solarimpulse.com.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police remove caravan-dwellers from Bern field
Photo: SRF

Police remove caravan-dwellers from Bern field

Bern cantonal police mobilized officers to remove dozens of caravan-dwellers on Thursday night from a field in the Swiss capital where they were illegally camped in a protest demonstration. READ () »

Renovated Geneva train station central hall opens
Geneva's main train station. Photo: CFF

Renovated Geneva train station central hall opens

Passengers are able to traverse the central hall of Geneva’s main train station for the first time in more than four years after renovations begun in 2010. READ () »

Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races
Runners take in mountain scenery in the Aletsch half marathon. Photo: Kathy Zimmerman

Expats lace up running shoes for Swiss races


From the simply beautiful to the downright barmy, Switzerland's vast array of running races are a great way for expats to integrate into the Swiss way of life, The Local's Caroline Bishop learns. READ () »

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Unit sale drives rise in Novartis Q1 net profits

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis on Thursday posted a 24-percent jump in first-quarter net profit from the same period a year earlier, driven largely by the sale of a blood transfusion diagnostics unit. READ () »

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Doctor acquitted for aiding senior’s suicide

A Neuchâtel cantonal court has overturned the conviction of a doctor found guilty of breaking the law by helping an 89-year-old man die without getting a proper diagnosis of his condition. READ () »

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'
Photo: Michael Buholzer

Vote set for ban on food trading 'speculation'

The Swiss will vote on a proposal to ban speculation on agricultural commodities and food, the government said on Wednesday, announcing that organizers had gathered enough signatures to put the issue to a referendum. READ () »

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs
Swiss People's Party MP Luzi Stamm. Photo: Federal Parliament

Tweet exposes Iran trip by right-wing Swiss MPs

Six members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) wanted to discreetly visit Iran without publicity last week but one of them inadvertently made the trip public in a tweet. 
 READ () »

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border
"Bush meat" seized by customs agents. Photo: Federal Customs Administration

Armadillo and crocodile meat seized at border

A Frenchman living in Switzerland was caught entering the country from France with unusual contraband in his suitcase: 16 kilograms of meat from exotic species native to the African jungle. READ () »

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes
WHO headquarters in Geneva. Photo: Yann Forget

UN health agency hits back at vaccine foes

The Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) hit back on Wednesday against vaccine deniers who claim that immunization is pointless, risky and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided. READ () »

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards
Photo: Malcolm Curtis/The Local

More protection sought for Lavaux vineyards

Voters in the canton of Vaud are set to go to the polls for a third time next month to decide on the future of Lavaux, the celebrated vineyard region east of Lausanne. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Expats lace up running shoes for races across Switzerland
National
Bern finds solution for Erasmus student exchange programme
National
Bern zoo faces animal cruelty charges over bear cub deaths
Society
Swiss alpine ski champion announces same-sex marriage on Facebook
Features
Former industrial zone transforms into Zurich’s trendiest spot
Tech
Swiss Solar Impulse team shows off new fuel-free aircraft
International
Suspect in Liechtenstein bank CEO murder case 'likely dead'
Sponsored Article
Caveman comedy comes to Zurich in English
Society
Innovative building provides refuge for hypersensitive tenants
Tech
VIDEO: Teenage boy sends Swiss army knife into stratosphere
International
Switzerland ranks second in world for social progress: report
National
Pharrell Williams set to perform in first Montreux jazzfest concert
Advertisement:
Sport
American wingsuit flyer dies after Bernese Oberland accident
Business & Money
H&M plans hefty Swiss minimum wage for employees by 2015
International
Caterpillar accused by US senator of dodging taxes through 'Swiss plan'
International
Geneva man in Facebook page fight with Italian carmaker Ferrari
International
Schumacher’s wife pays for 'medical suite' at Swiss family mansion
International
Aborted Swiss airlines take-off injures four at London airport
International
Swiss refuse asylum request from topless protest group founder
Business & Money
British expat former banker to head Swiss finance regulator FINMA
National
Swiss honey contains harmful plastic: TV consumer affairs report
Business & Money
Luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe threatens Geneva exit over taxes
Business & Money
World's largest watch fair opens in Basel amid uncertain times
International
'Fergie' credits hikes around Verbier mountains for recent weight loss
Etoiles de Montagne
Sponsored Article
How to summer holiday up a Swiss mountain
Swissbenefits
Sponsored Article
How to avoid Switzerland’s tax haven trap
Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,068
jobs available