Solar powered plane grounded until 2016

Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered aircraft, is set to be grounded in Hawaii until April 2016, according to a release from its team.

The aircraft recently completed a record breaking non-stop flight from Nagoya to Hawaii which lasted over 117 hours, but suffered "irreversible damage to overheated batteries."

Initially it was said that further flights would not be scheduled for, "2-3 weeks at the earliest."

Solar plane breaks record for longest flight


Solar Impulse

The problem, however, has proved more serious than first thought.

"Irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs which will take several months," Solar Impulse said in a statement. "In parallel, the Solar Impulse engineering team will be studying various options for better cooling and heating processes for very long flights," it added.

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The overall goal of the mission is to fly around the world using solar power. The plane, which has a 72 meter wing span and 17,000 solar cells covering its wings, will be housed by The University of Hawaii, "with the support of the Department of Transportation," at its hangar at Kalaeloa airport.

In a statement released on Youtube, Bertrand Piccard, Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of Solar Impulse, said, "The record-breaking flight from Japan to Hawaii was a historic first for aviation, it's a historic first for renewable energies, it's a huge success for Solar Impulse, but it has a cost."

Piccard added that, "We overheated the batteries during the first day of the flight, we damaged the batteries. It was an error in the evaluation on how to use these batteries during a steep climb, (and) over insulation also of the battery pack."

André Borschberg, who piloted the plane from Japan to Hawaii, remained positive in his outlook.

"All the obstacles that we found, that we had to overcome, I guess it's just made us stronger… we have the energy now to continue," he said in a statement on Youtube.

"We have the commitment to complete this flight around the world next year hopefully, of course, successfully."