Solar Impulse 2’s Flight to Lehigh Valley, Cancelled

Solar Impulse 2’s flight to Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania was canceled due to a cabinet failure. It was supposed to be its 13th flight with pilot Bertrand Piccard.

According to the Press Release from Solar Impulse 2’s website, “We experienced a brief cabinet failure which distributes the fan power needed to keep the mobile hangar inflated. This lasted approximately 2.5 minutes. During the time it took to reboot the system, some parts of the airplane were lightly touched by the deflating hangar fabric.”

The engineers are assessing the severity of the damage inflicted by the hangar fabric. Although the solar panels can withstand water and heat, it cannot handle too much friction.

It has not yet divulged when it will be fixed. According to the statement on their website, “Let’s remember that airplane safety and risk mitigation is of paramount importance and hence we want to ensure that the structures that were touched are in perfect working order.”

This is not the first time that the Solar Impulse 2 has experienced damage. During the longest leg of the World Wide journey wherein it traveled from Nagoya to Hawaii, the batteries also broke off after 117 hours of flight. It has forced the crews to layover in Hawaii for 9 months.

The Solar Impulse 2 is currently in Daytona, the hometown of Wright brothers, fathers of modern aviation. After their stop in Pennsylvania, they are expected to visit New York which will be regarded as one of the hardest flights because of the state’s air traffic due to its 3 airports.

Solar Impulse 2 flies at the speed of 41mph. It has a 240-foot wingspan and weighs 5,100 pounds, way less than a typical family car.

The global voyage started in March 2015 wherein it has traveled from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Muscat, Oman. The flight lasted for 13 hours with Andre Borschberg in the cockpit.

The vision of Piccard and Borschberg is to promote clean technologies. “The two record-breaking solo flights of André Borschberg from Nagoya to Hawaii and Bertrand Piccard from Hawaii to San Francisco give a clear message: everybody could use the same technologies on the ground to halve our world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life.”