Round-the-world plane suspends journey until 2016 due to overheated batteries

The solar-powered plane Solar Impulse will suspend its round-the-world journey until April 2016 due to irreversible damage to certain parts of the plane's batteries that will take several months to repair, the team said on Wednesday. The damage is the result of the historic 5-day flight from Japan to Hawaii.

"During the first ascend on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature increased due to a high climb rate and an over insulation of the gondolas. And while the Mission Team was monitoring this very closely during the flight, there was no way to decrease the temperature for the remaining duration as each daily cycle requires an ascend to 28’000 feet and descend for optimal energy management," the statement said.

Overall the airplane performed very well during the flight, according to the team, which emphasized that the damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or a weakness in the technology but rather an evaluation error in terms of the profile of the mission and the cooling design specifications of the batteries.

"Irreversible damage to certain parts of the batteries will require repairs which will take several months," the team said.

Post maintenance check flights will start in 2016 to test the new battery heating and cooling systems. The round-the-world mission will resume early April from Hawaii to the USA West Coast. From there Solar Impulse will cross the USA to JFK in New York before making the Atlantic crossing to Europe and then returning the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.

(Copyright 2015 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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