Sustainable Energy

Solar plane breaks record for longest flight

An update from the solar-powered plane
An update from the solar-powered plane

A pilot flying a solar-powered plane has broken the world record for the longest non-stop solo flight in history.

Pilot Andre Borschberg landed the Solar Impulse 2 plane in Kalaeloa, Hawaii at 5:55 a.m. local time after flying non-stop for five days.

This ended the final and longest stretch of a seven-leg round-the-world journey. The 8,200 kilometer (5,095 miles) stretch started in Nanjing, China on June 28 and ended on Friday.

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse 2 has a 72 meter wingspan -- larger than that of the Boeing 747 -- and weighs 2,300 kilograms -- around the same as a car. The wings have 7,000 solar cells built in which power four electric motors. The plane, which doesn't use any fuel, charges while flying during the day so that it can fly at night.

The pilot said the project had shown what is achievable with solar power.

"It really works, it works so well. It's demonstrating it's reliable, it's extremely energy efficient and that's what we want to push forward…with this project," Borschberg told CNBC on Friday, from the cockpit of the plane while in flight.

The previous record was set by American Steve Fossett in 2006 for a non-stop flight that lasted around 76 hours.

Landing the Solar Impulse 2 is fairly difficult and needs very specific weather conditions. As a result, there were concerns that Borschberg might have to circle over Hawaii until the conditions were right for him to land.