BEIRUT

Sci&Tech

High winds ground solar plane's Morocco-Spain flight

The experimental aircraft "Solar Impulse", HB-SIA, carrying Solar Impulse's Chief Executive Officer and pilot Andre Borschberg takes off for its first intercontinental flight to Morocco at the airbase in Payerne, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron)

RABAT: An experimental solar-powered aircraft that had been scheduled to depart Morocco for Spain on Tuesday for its return journey to Switzerland has been grounded by strong winds, organizers said.

The Swiss-made Solar Impulse had been set to take off at 0800 GMT from the Rabat-Sale airport and due to land in Madrid's Barajas airport after midnight on Wednesday on its way home, organizers said Monday.

But the flight was delayed "because of the wind," the team told a joint news conference with the Moroccan agency for solar energy (MASEN).

No new date for the flight has been announced.

Solar Impulse, which flies without using any fuel, arrived late on Friday in Rabat on a return journey to Switzerland after its successful flight over the Moroccan desert.

The giant high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a jumbo jet but weighs no more than a medium-sized car, is fitted with 12,000 solar cells feeding four electric motors driving propellers.

Last month, the solar-powered plane made the 2,500-kilometer journey from Madrid to Rabat, its longest to date and its first between continents, after an inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels last year.

The flights are intended as a rehearsal for the goal of a round-the-world trip in 2014 by an updated version of the plane.

 

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