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Successful first international flight for Solar Impulse

After a flight lasting 12 hours 59 minutes, using no fuel and propelled by solar energy alone, Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels at 21h39 this evening (UTC +2). A crowd of supporters was there to celebrate the arrival in the European Communities' capital of Bertrand Piccard's and André Borschberg's solar airplane.

With André Borschberg at the controls, Solar Impulse took off this morning at 08h40 from Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland and then followed the previously determined flight plan. The aircraft crossed the Alsace toward Nancy and Metz, before over-flying the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg and finally arriving in Belgium to land on Runway 02 at Brussels Airport (Zaventem). Thanks to the satellite communication system developed by Solar Impulse's National Telecom Partner, Swisscom, Flight Director Raymond Clerc and his team were able to support the pilot throughout the flight from the Mission Control Center in Payerne.

During the flight, André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the project explained: "It's a spectacular flight. The take off was a little challenging because we had to rush due to air traffic activity consequently I needed a little bit of time to get everything in order before I could become serein. It was little bit north east wind during take off however this was not a major problem."

"It's unbelievably exciting to land here in Brussels, at the heart of Europe, after flying across France and Luxemburg. And to fly without fuel, noise or pollution, making practically no negative impact, is a great source of satisfaction … " exclaimed André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of the project, as he stepped out of the cockpit in Brussels.

"I'm not surprised that the flight went so well, because I had absolute confidence in André and the team on the ground" declared Bertrand Piccard, initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse, at the post-flight press conference. "But I am relieved that the weather allowed us to arrive in time for our week promoting renewable energies, planned jointly with the European Institutions to take place from 23 to 29 May 2011. "

Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Company, was very enthusiastic about welcoming the airplane onto the tarmac of Brussels Airport. "This airplane, the first to function without fossil fuel and without emitting CO2, symbolizes the great efforts the aeronautical industry is making to develop new technologies for energy saving and increased use of renewable energies. The European airport sector is also very active in developing its activities in a responsible and durable manner. Given Brussels Airport's own ambition to continue reducing our CO2 emissions, we attach particular importance to solar energy generation projects. Therefore, we are delighted that Solar Impulse selected Brussels Airport as its first international destination."

Press release issued by Solar Impulse SA on May 13, 2011


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