Solar Plane Wing Damaged While Landing In Japan

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TOKYO – The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 will need repairs to its right wing before it can resume its attempt to fly around the world later this month, organizers said.

The plane, which began its landmark journey in Abu Dhabi on March 9, was forced to land in Nagoya, central Japan earlier this week due to bad weather during the most ambitious leg of the flight across the Pacific.

The Solar Impulse 2 team said in a YouTube video posted late Wednesday that an aileron on the right wing was damaged by a rain cover put over the plane in strong winds after landing at a small airport in Nagoya.

“The technical team already started to build some spare parts but it will keep us on the ground for at least one week before we can carry on and Andre to fly to Hawaii,” said Bertrand Piccard, a pilot of Solar Impulse 2, referring to Andre Borschberg, the project’s  co-founder.

“It’s not a big issue for the project itself but it’s a little additional delay,” he said.

The Solar Impulse 2 took off from Nanjing in eastern China on Sunday to start a six-day flight to the islands of Hawaii, in what was expected to be the longest leg of their journey. But bad weather forced it to divert to Nagoya on Monday night.

Since the start of their around-the-world journey in Abu Dhabi, Borschberg and Piccard have been taking turns piloting the lightweight aircraft Solar Impulse 2.

The Pacific leg of their journey had been already delayed for more than a month due to safety concerns and bad weather conditions.

If the plane makes it to Hawaii, Borschberg and Piccard plan to fly through the United States and then across the Atlantic Ocean.

The project has been planned for more than 12 years and aims to raise awareness about climate change and green energy solutions.

Powered by four propellers with more than 17,000 solar cells installed on its wings, Solar Impulse 2 is expected to make a total of 12 stops in its flight around the world, spending about 25 days in the air over the course of five months.

Piccard is known for making the world’s first non-stop trip around the world in a hot air balloon in 1999. – BERNAMA

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