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Solar plane completes 72-hour simulated flight

Swiss pilot André Borschberg completed a 72-hour non-stop flight Friday -- but in a simulator for the new Solar Impulse aircraft planned for a 2014 world tour using only solar energy.

Solar plane completes 72-hour simulated flight
Solar Impulse/Jacques-Henri Addor

Borschberg emerged red-eyed from lack of sleep to tell reporters how he had endured three days and three nights in a narrow cockpit, wired up to electrodes and filmed from all angles.

He and his 80-strong support team have to ensure not just that they can build a solar-powered aircraft capable of completing the flight around the world, but also that they have a pilot strong enough to complete the mission.

Borschberg declared the experiment a success.

“This simulation was extremely important because it has shown the strategy for the 2014 flight is viable,” he told reporters.

Borschberg founded the project with Bertrand Piccard, a famous explorer who made his name travelling around the world in a hot-air balloon.

“This is the first time each section of the team worked simultaneously in one place, for a long time,” said Piccard.

The projected tour of the world would be split up into five stages, said Borschberg.

“The longest flight segments will last up to five days and five nights and we had to make sure the pilot aboard the aircraft can survive” during these long periods, he added.

To this end, the team completely redesigned the cockpit from the previous model that last summer made a series of European flights to air shows in Brussels and Paris, making it more spacious.

The pilot’s seat can be folded so he can relax or sleep very briefly after connecting the autopilot.

A toilet is built into the seat.

He can be fed with freeze-dried meals that can be warmed up during the flight.

“We focused on gastronomic pleasure with real dishes, not tablets,” said a spokeswoman.

The team had to contend with 20 simulated approach and landings a day during the simulation, with little respite for the pilot.

To avoid cramping up, the pilot devoted himself to yoga and pilates exercises.

The pilot had to get by on on snatches of microsleep lasting only about 20 minutes and come the real mission, he will also have to be able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations.

The first prototype of Solar Impulse made aviation history in July 2010 providing the first uninterrupted flight of 24 hours powered only by its solar panels and batteries.

Its wings were covered with 12,000 solar cells and it had four electric motors.

Construction has already started on the new device, which will be larger, with new batteries and engines.

The aircraft must be ready for its first test flight in 2013.

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What is the fine for not filling out Switzerland’s Covid arrival form?

There is one essential form all travellers to Switzerland must fill out, but many don’t. If caught, border guards will hand out fines.

A 100-franc fine could be imposed on those who don’t fill out the Personal Locator Form
Important paperwork: Switzerland-bound travellers must fill out the PLF form or risk getting fined. Photo by Zurich Airport

With constantly changing travel rules, it is difficult to keep up with all the regulations that need to be followed to enter Switzerland (and all the other countries, for that matter).

Since September 20th, everyone arriving in Switzerland, regardless of their country of origin, mode of transport, or vaccination status, must fill out the electronic Personal Location Form (PLF).

Once filled out and registered online, you will receive a QR code which you will have to show when entering Switzerland.

However, some people may be unaware of the requirement and enter the country without this form.

READ MORE: Here is the form you need to enter Switzerland

Checks are done randomly, so many travellers slip in without having filled this form. But if caught, you will have to pay a 100-franc fine.

So far, 200 people had to pay this fine, according to Tamedia media group.

The only people exempted from this rule are transit passengers, long-haul lorry drivers transporting goods across borders,  children under 16, cross-border workers, and residents of border areas.

The PLF requirement is an addition to other travel regulations the Federal Council implemented in September:

Two tests to enter Switzerland are now required for the unvaccinated and unrecovered.

Unvaccinated arrivals and those who have not contracted and recovered from the virus in the past six months must show two negative tests. 

The first proof should be presented when arriving in Switzerland.  Then, four to seven days later, travellers will have to undergo another test, which they must pay for themselves.

Both PCR and antigen results are accepted.

These rules only apply to arrivals from nations not on the Switzerland’s high-risk list. As the United States and United Kingdom are considered high risk, only vaccinated people from those countries can arrive in Switzerland.

This article contains more information on the rules which apply. 

EXPLAINED: What are Switzerland’s new travel and Covid certificate rules?

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