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The Solar Impulse team has released its plans for 2016, including the continuation of the round-the-world flight of the all-solar-powered Si2. With new batteries installed, flight testing will begin in Hawaii toward the end of February, but the team does not plan to take off across the Pacific Ocean until April 20 at the earliest.
Rather than planning just one route for the continued journey, the Solar Impulse team is giving itself options to allow the Si2 pilots and Solar Impulse co-founders, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, to take advantage of the best weather opportunities at the time of the flights. For the first leg, the team has selected four potential destinations along the western edge of North America: Vancouver, Canada; San Francisco; Los Angeles and Phoenix.
The flight will then continue to New York, the only chosen city on the east coast. From there, the Si2 will fly to either the United Kingdom, France, Spain or Morocco before flying through Europe or northern Africa toward its ultimate destination in Abu Dhabi, the city from which the airplane took off on March 9 of last year.
Last year’s round-the-world flight attempt was full of challenges as the weather became uncooperative, grounding the Si2 in Asia for weeks. The ultimate challenge came with the crossing of the Pacific Ocean from Nagoya, Japan, where the Si2 had made an unplanned stop, to Honolulu, Hawaii. Borschberg set a record for the longest solo flight, staying aloft for 118 hours 52 minutes.