Our legacy in the Pioneering Solar Impulse Project

Our legacy in the Pioneering Solar Impulse Project

Unisphere was founded on the basis of our distinctive operational experience gained from the Solar Impulse flight around the world. This experience has enabled us to develop Unisphere and our high-value services for addressing real-life operational challenges.

Solar Impulse in a nutshell

Solar Impulse in a nutshell

The Solar Impulse project was the first aircraft powered solely by solar energy to circumnavigate the globe. This pioneering initiative, spearheaded by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, demonstrated the potential of sustainable aviation.

The aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, is equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power its electric motors and charge its batteries, allowing for night flight.

The historic journey, completed in 2016, spanned over 40,000 kilometers without a single drop of fuel, setting multiple aviation records and demonstrating the viability of renewable energy sources in reducing humanity’s ecological footprint.

The lightweight, electric-propelled aircraft design presented a significant challenge in managing the impact of weather on flight. The increased sensitivity to weather and the strong impact of wind on flight time and battery consumption necessitates a new approach to flight operations.

17.000

17.000

solar cells

The aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, is equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power its electric motors and charge its batteries, allowing for night flight.

The historic journey, completed in 2016, spanned over 40,000 kilometers without a single drop of fuel, setting multiple aviation records and demonstrating the viability of renewable energy sources in reducing humanity’s ecological footprint.

40.000

40.000

kilometers

Around the world in a solar airplane

17 flights

40.000 km

7 countries

550 flight
hours

The operational challenge

The operational challenge

The Solar Impulse project was the first aircraft powered solely by solar energy to circumnavigate the globe. This pioneering initiative, spearheaded by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, demonstrated the potential of sustainable aviation.

Resulting wingspan of a Boeing 747

(72m/ 236ft)

Resulting weight of a Family car

(2.3 tones / 5000 Pounds)

Resulting power of a scooter

(12kW/ 15hp)

The lightweight, electric-propelled aircraft design presented a significant challenge in managing the impact of weather on flight. The increased sensitivity to weather and the strong impact of wind on flight time and battery consumption necessitates a new approach to flight operations.

A new approach for flight planning

A large portion of Unisphere‘s leadership and technical teams have previously worked on the Solar Impulse project, where they were responsible for flight planning and operations, which resulted in the successful flight around the world.

Simulation-based Flight planning

To gain a deeper understanding of the impact of weather on planned flights, simulation and modelling technologies were employed to assess operational aspects such as aircraft positioning, flight time, and battery performance.

Airport Assessment

A total of more than 2,000 airports worldwide were evaluated to identify those with the optimal conditions for the Solar Impulse aircraft to safely circumnavigate the globe. To achieve this, a large amount of historic weather data was analyzed in order to inform data-driven decision-making.

Why it matters for IAM and drones?

The experience gained from operating the Solar Impulse project is highly relevant to the flight operations of drones, eVTOL, and other innovative aircraft systems such as HAPS and electric planes.

All of these aircraft have one thing in common: their electric propulsion and lightweight structures make them more sensitive to weather impacts. The new approach for flight planning and operations management applied in the Solar Impulse project is now being translated into a digital and simulation-based operations platform tailored to the needs of NextGen aviation.