Solar Impulse 2 pilot back in Switzerland for medical tests

14th April 2015, Comments 0 comments

The co-pilot of a pioneering plane attempting to circumnavigate the globe powered by the sun, is being treated for migraine in his native Switzerland but will return to China soon, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Andre Borschberg had returned for a medical check-up for migraine problems but "he will be back in China in a few days," spokeswoman Claudia Durgnat told AFP by email.

She said the next leg of the Solar Impulse 2 flight should take off early Thursday, with the other pilot involved in the project, Bertrand Piccard, at the controls.

"The flight to Nanjing from Chongqing is still on for Thursday at 3:00 am (1900 GMT Wednesday)," she said.

The Solar Impulse 2 arrived in Chongqing airport from Myanmar on March 31.

It had been due to make a brief stop in the southwestern city and quickly travel on to Nanjing, about 270 kilometres (170 miles) from Shanghai, but that was delayed due to weather and safety concerns.

Marc Baumgarten, another Solar Impulse 2 spokesman, told AFP the delay was not due to Borschberg's medical problems but because of "cross winds which are covering the entire country".

Borschberg, a trained engineer, flew as a pilot in the Swiss air force before joining the project.

The team behind Solar Impulse 2, which has more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings, hopes to promote green energy with its round the world attempt.

The plane is the successor of Solar Impulse, a pioneering craft which notched up a 26-hour flight in 2010, proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night.

Ridiculed by the aviation industry when it was first unveiled, the venture has since been hailed around the world, including by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Muscat was the first of the 12 planned stops on the plane's maiden journey from Abu Dhabi, with a total flight time of around 25 days spread over five months.


© 2015 AFP

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