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April 10, 2014

Swiss Pilot Unveils Solar-Powered Plane for Planned Global Flight

by VOA News

A Swiss pilot unveiled what could be a history-making aircraft Wednesday; the plane is designed to fly around the globe powered only by the sun.

The Solar Impulse 2 will begin test flights next month in preparation for a planned around-the-world trip next year.

The plane has the same wingspan as a jumbo passenger jet, but only weighs about as much as a large car.

That is because instead of heavy fuel tanks, Solar Impulse 2 is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells, grabbing energy from the sun and storing it in batteries.

Pilot Andre Borschberg said he expects to take five days and five nights to travel around the world. But he said Solar Impulse 2 could stay in the air indefinitely.

The plane is an updated model of a solar-powered aircraft built five years ago and flown across the United States last year.