Solar Impulse 2 became the first solar-powered plane to cross the Atlantic when it landed in Spain early Thursday.
Piloted by Solar Impulse Chairman Bertrand Piccard, the single-seater landed in Seville at 1:38 a.m. ET, 71 hours and 8 minutes after taking off from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The trans-Atlantic flight was the 15th leg of the plane’s historic round-the-world journey.
The solar-powered plane flew at a maximum altitude of 28,000 feet and an average speed of 59 mph during the three-day flight.
The 4,203-mile journey marked the first-ever solar-powered, electric and fuel-free flight across the Atlantic Ocean. In a press release, Solar Impulse said the plane broke several world records, pending approval by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which oversees air sports. These include the altitude record for an electric airplane.
A larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew six years ago, Solar Impulse 2 is made of carbon fiber and has 17,248 solar cells built into the wing that supply the plane with renewable energy, via four motors. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for night flying.
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The plane is the brainchild of explorer Piccard, who is taking it in turns with his fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg to fly the aircraft on its journey across the globe.
Designed to prove the potential of renewable energy, Solar Impulse 2 had already earned a place in the history books prior to the trans-Atlantic flight. Borschberg broke a number of records on the eighth leg of Solar Impulse’s 2 journey, landing in Hawaii on July 3 2015 after an incredible 4,480-mile, 118-hour flight from Japan. The journey shattered the record for longest solar-powered flight in terms of distance and duration. Borschberg also broke the record for longest non-stop solo flight without refueling, which previously stood at 76 hours and 45 minutes.
“The message about clean technology is very important for our world,” said Piccard, during a mid-flight interview with FoxNews.com earlier this week. “It’s not only about clean technology and renewable energy, it’s also about human adventure, it’s about trying to fulfill dreams, trying to do things that nobody has done before.”
On Wednesday Piccard and Borschberg announced their intention to create the International Committee of Clean Technologies (ICCT), which aims to provide independent energy policy guidance to governments and corporations.
The plane has travelled 22,743 miles since setting off on the first leg of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Oman in March 2015, and has racked up 460 hours of flight time.
Prior to its flight from New York to Seville, Solar Impulse 2 made stops in India, Myanmar, China, Japan, Hawaii, California, Phoenix, Tulsa, Dayton, Lehigh Valley. The final leg of the odyssey is from Europe to Abu Dhabi.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers
The Associated Press contributed to this report.