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Solar Impulse

The role of Altran is absolutely essential (…) I mean, if they are sick, we don’t fly. Raymond Clerc, mission flight Director

Solar Impulse is a unique project: the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) aircraft is the first to attain potentially non-stop flight, meaning that it can fly all day and night without needing to refuel. It uses no fossil fuels. With the Si2, the Solar Impulse team seeks to achieve its founding objective: to completing the first round-the-world trip in a solar airplane. 

To follow such a route without using the slightest drop of fuel was considered impossible. But thanks to their pioneer spirit and confidence in innovation, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg were ready to travel more than 21,000 miles in a solar airplane, thereby achieving a milestone in the optimisation of renewable technologies and energies. Altran has shared this goal since the project began in 2003. 

Si2’s take-off from Dubai on 8 March 2015 marked the beginning of a months-long process. Si2 will achieve this historic round-the-world trip in 10 legs (with stops in India, China and the United States, among others) for an estimated flying time of about 600 hours over two years. Spending the winter in Hawaii, the plane will continue its progression next year, taking off to North America in April 2016.

During this circumnavigation, the plane and its pilots have faced, and will continue to face, extreme conditions (unforeseen weather circumstances, the need to maintain a certain altitude depending on the terrain, the energy supply required for night flights, intense changes in temperature, etc.) through legs lasting up to five consecutive days and nights for the most dangerous one, which had both the team and general public holding their breath: the crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Nanjing to Hawaii, during which André Borschberg broke a world record, spending 118 hours flying solo. 

Altran guides Solar Impulse

In the final stretch of one of the most innovative projects of this new century, Altran’s role focuses on the Mission Control Center (MCC). Pilot safety during such long periods depends largely on the route defined by Altran and its simulation team. The results of their calculations are displayed on a dedicated screen in the MCC.

Provisional route of the Solar Impulse plane for the Nagoya-Hawaii flight

Altran control screen in the MCC

See how Altran guides Solar Impulse around the world

Solar Impulse 2

Watch the assembly of the round-the-world aircraft!

Altran experts focus

Christophe Béesau, Altran Project Director, Advanced Modelling and Simulation, for Solar Impulse
Christophe Béesau, Altran Project Director, Advanced Modelling and Simulation, for Solar Impulse