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World's largest solar-powered plane arrives in Chongqing

(Xinhua)    10:49, March 31, 2015
Ground crew members gather to push the Solar Impulse 2, the world's biggest solar-powered plane, towards a hangar after it landed at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport in Chongqing, southwest China, March 31, 2015. The plane, after a 19-hour flight from Myanmar, made its debut in China on Tuesday morning, on the fifth leg of its round-the-world journey to raise awareness of renewable energy and environmental protection. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)

CHONGQING, March 31 -- Solar Impulse 2, the world's largest solar-powered plane, arrived in China's southwestern metropolis of Chongqing early Tuesday morning.

The plane departed from Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar, on Monday morning and arrived at the Jiangbei International Airport at 1:35 a.m on Tuesday.

The 1,500-km journey lasted 20 hours and 29 minutes. The plane, made of carbon fiber, landed at the airport and was greeted by journalists and local aviation enthusiasts.

The plane, with a 72-meter-long wingspan, looks like a massive kite in the sky. It hovered above the airport slowly before a smooth, quiet landing on the runway, according to a Xinhua reporter at the scene.

Airport staff then helped push the plane to a hangar, demonstrating the aircraft's light weight.

The Swiss-made plane weighs 2,300 kg, roughly the weight of a car, and travels at more than 100 km per hour. It's powered by 17,248 solar panels installed on both sides of the wings and has zero emissions.

"The journey from Mandalay to Chongqing is the most difficult section during the world tour," said the Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard, who had to fly through mountains wearing an Oxygen mask in the 3.8-square-meter cockpit.

At times he experienced minus 20 degrees Celsius temperatures in the unheated cockpit.

"China has become the top producer of wind and solar power in the world," said Piccard, 57, who was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe in 1999.

"If you see the efforts the Chinese government has made in optimizing the efficiency of new energy, you will not be surprised the Solar Impulse 2 has drawn so much attention in China," said Piccard, who co-piloted the plane with Andre Borschberg.

The globe-trotting plane began its journey on March 9. Chongqing is the fifth leg of its 12-leg world tour following Abu Dhabi of United Arab Emirates, Muscat of Oman, Ahmedabad of India and Mandalay of Myanmar.

The plane will head for east China's Nanjing City after a short stay in Chongqing for energy storage. As thunderstorms are forecast in Chongqing over the next two days, the plane is likely to stay in the city for two or three days.

The total trip will take around 25 days, spread out over five months, with a total distance of 35,000 km.

After Nanjing ,the plane will cross the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii and is expected to return to Abu Dhabi after completing the tour.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Bianji)

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