The team’s new challenge is to prepare the two pilots - Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg - for their 2015 long-duration round-the-world flights by training them on virtual missions in the flight simulator. The idea is to test their ability to endure three days and nights alone in a cockpit of less than 9ft x 5ft x 3ft at an altitude between 3,000ft and 27,000ft. André Borschberg came through the first 72-hour simulation in 2012 with flying colors. It’s now Bertrand Piccard’s turn to make a virtual transatlantic flight, from Norfolk International Airport (USA East Coast) to Seville in Spain.
"For the attempt of the round-the-world flight on solar power, we will need to cross oceans and the flight might last several days and several nights. This is why I will have to make this 72 hour transatlantic flight simulation training in the flight simulator" Bertrand Piccard
During the round-the-world flight in 2015, the biggest challenge will be to cross the ocean. Three days to cross the Atlantic and four or five for the Pacific… 120 hours managing energy non-stop just to stay airborne. The second prototype, HB-SIB, due to emerge from Solar Impulse’s workshop next spring, will meet this challenge. But the pilot too will have to step up to the mark and prove he’s capable of flying the airplane solo, day and night, for 72 hours in succession. It’s not just a technological challenge, but also a human adventure on the verge of the impossible.
"What is really special, is that it is the first and only airplane in the world which has unlimited endurance. We have an airplane which is fully sustainable in terms of energy, and our challenge now is to make the pilot sustainable as well."