Solar Impulse 2 reaches Abu Dhabi, completes fuel-free global journey

Solar Impulse 2 flew into the record books Monday when it completed its historic fuel-free global journey around the world.

Piloted by Bertrand Piccard, the solar-powered plane landed at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi just after 8 p.m. EDT, after a 48-hour flight from Cairo. The flight was the 17th leg of a global odyssey that began in March 2015 when Solar Impulse 2 flew from Abu Dhabi to Oman.

“It’s a first in the history of #energy, @solarimpulse is only the beginning,” tweeted Piccard, shortly after landing.

The plane has traveled 26,744 miles since setting off from Abu Dhabi and has racked up 558 hours of flight time.

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 wings that supply the plane with renewable energy, via four motors. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for night flying.

Solar Impulse Chairman Bertrand Piccard has taken turns with his fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg to fly the single-seater plane around the world.

Piccard was at the controls when Solar Impulse 2 became the first solar-powered plane to cross the Atlantic last month after a flight of 71 hours and 8 minutes.

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.

However, the following leg – from Hawaii to California, was delayed for nine months while the Solar Impulse team repaired damage to the plane’s batteries sustained on the journey from Japan.

Prior to its flight from Cairo to Abu Dhabi, Solar Impulse 2 made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, Hawaii, California, Phoenix, Tulsa, Dayton, Lehigh Valley, New York and Seville.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

The Associated Press contributed to this report