Imagine you are piloting a plane the size of a 747. But unlike a 747, this plane has an unheated, unpressurized cockpit in which temperatures fall as low as -40°. Moreover, you have to fly for over 60 hours straight, without ever getting up to stretch. And as for sleep, don’t count on getting much. You can take naps, but only about six a day, each lasting 20 minutes.
(This was originally posted on the On Q blog. Image of Solar Impulse flying over Golden Gate Bridge courtesy of Solar Impulse)
Sound like your kind of challenge? If so, you should sign up to join the Solar Impulse team. Because that’s exactly the kind of endurance needed to pilot Solar Impulse 2, the solar-powered plane that has just completed the latest leg of its historic round-the-world flight.
Last Thursday, Solar Impulse 2 took off from Kalaeloa, Hawaii, with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the helm. (This is the same Piccard who, in 1999, became the first person to complete a non-stop balloon circumnavigation of the Earth.) Sixty-two hours later, the plane touched down on Moffett Airfield, in Santa Clara County, Calif. From there, it will fly to several points across the U.S. before it takes off from New York for a non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Solar Impulse 2 has four propellers, but doesn’t sip an ounce of fuel. Instead, it relies solely on the power of the sun. As such, it is a testament to modern technology. But as I’ve already hinted, it is also a testament to the depths of human endurance and stick-with-it-ness. If you were impressed that anyone could pilot a plane for over 60 hours straight, consider the plane’s nonstop solo flight from Japan to Hawaii, which took 120 hours from start to finish!
QNX Software Systems is proud to be the official real-time OS partner for the Solar Impulse team. The plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions.