February 22, 2012 — What is it like to fly 72 hours in a mock-up cockpit of a solar airplane? Swiss pilot André Borschberg is finding out.
Through Friday, February 24, Solar Impulse is simulating a 72-hour flight in a full-size mock-up cockpit of its second airplane, currently under construction. “First four hours in the simulator,” Borschberg wrote on his Twitter account. “Full of electrodes on the head and the body. Starting getting used to all that material...”
After nearly a half-day, Borschberg wrote: “First 10 hours in the cockpit are very fine. Starting to get used to my environment and the loneliness.”
The three-day test, from Tuesday to Friday, will allow the pilot and co-founder of the project to assess the configuration of the cockpit and simulate the effects on the human body of a flight of several days.
The first prototype of the plane, covered with photovoltaic cells and powered only by solar energy, made a series of European flights in mid 2011. The second prototype of the plane is scheduled to have a test flight in 2013 and then fly around the world in 2014, piloted by Bertrand Piccard and Borschberg.
The second airplane has a more spacious, ergonomically efficient cockpit, when compared to the first, so that Piccard and Borschberg, taking turns to fly it, can remain airborne for several days with their essential equipment and supplies.
To follow Borschberg’s progress, check out his blog where details of things like nutrition, fatigue management and concentration, as well as the ergonomics of the cockpit, will be posted.
The pioneering Swiss solar-powered aircraft, the Solar Impulse, is powered entirely by solar energy.
Photo credit: Jean Revillard
Andre Borschberg wears an oxygen mask during day one of his simulated flight. Photo credit: Solar Impulse