La de ayer fue una jornada memorable para los amantes de la aviación y su aventura. Probablemente se escribió una página memorable, o al menos pudimos asistir en vivo y en directo a cómo se toman las decisiones en un momento crítico, tanto desde el punto de vista del piloto, como desde el equipo que respalda la operación del Solar Impulse. El SI aterrizó a las 00 14AM de nuevo en Rabat, en lugar de hacerlo según lo previsto en Ouarzazate. "Turbulencias y vientos en altura inesperados, hicieron desistir al Jefe de Operaciones, y al propio pilto A.Borschberg.
Probablemente la operación del HB SIA de ayer debería ser estudiada, repetida y divulgada a los cuatro vientos aeronáuticos, resultando ser toda una lección magistral del cómo, y el porqué se toman decisiones. Los usuarios del transporte aéreo deberían tomar nota, y pensar, cuando hay un retraso en un vuelo, pensarlo siempre, que la seguridad es lo primero para los profesionales.
Ayer pudimos asistir en vivo a cómo la cabeza se impone al corazón.
Rabat, 14 June 2012.- The Solar Impulse aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg landed safely at the Rabat-Salé International airport at 00:14AM (UTC+1) after attempting to reach Ouarzazate. Due to unexpected headwinds and turbulences the prototype was constrained to return to its point of departure.
At Solar Impulse, the safety of the pilot and aircraft are the priority in all missions. For this reason around 03:26PM (UTC+1) half way between Casablanca and Marrakesh after leaving Rabat airport at 08:07AM (UTC+1) yesterday morning, the decision was made to turn back to Rabat due to degrading weather conditions. This situation is a perfect reminder of how challenging and difficult the Solar Impulse missions are and how flexible and prepared the entire team and the host country must be. Thanks to the professionalism of both Masen and Strat'Events, the event management company, the last minute logistics and support were precious for the successful completion of the unexpected mission.
"To this day, every flight was so well prepared making everything seem so easy. Maybe too easy given that we almost forgot that the Solar Impulse HB-SIA is a prototype which was initially only destined to fly over Switzerland as proof of its ability to fly day and night without fuel. What we are doing today with these intercontinental flights is at the limit of its capabilities and each mission is a technical and human feat for the entire team." remind Bertrand Piccard Initiator and Chairman of Solar Impulse.
"This is an illustration of the height of the challenge this airplane, as well as the entire Solar Impulse team, are faced with both on the technological and human levels. I am confident in their ability to succeed in this second stage of the mission and I am certain that the emotion will be even greater." declared Mustapha Bakkoury, President of the Management Board of Masen.
Under the High Patronage of His Highness King Mohammed VI and upon invitation of Masen (Moroccan Agency of Solar Energy) Solar Impulse was convened to fly over the future site of the first power plant of the Ouarzazate thermo-solar complex. This was a new feat for the HB-SIA as the arid and hot climate of the desert region is frequently filled with thunderstorms, strong winds and thermal currents which were today too strong for this experimental aircraft.
"Given the challenging meteorological conditions over the Moroccan desert, the team had already prepared all the possible scenarios, including a possible return on Rabat. The decision was the best albeit not the easiest to accept. It is an experience that renders us humble when faced with nature. When the headwind is faster than the speed of the aircraft, and when we are pushed back at an altitude of 8'000m, we risk to quickly losing all references. That is the moment when we need to decide to stop." said wisely André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse has he exited the aircraft.
Rabat – Rabat
Pilot:André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder
Take-off time:13/06/2012 08:07AM UTC+1
Time of decision to fly back:13/06/2012 03:33PM UTC+1
Time of landing:14/06/2012 00:14AM UTC+1
Flight duration:16 hours 6 min
Average ground speed:55 km/h
Highest altitude reached:5'000 metres (16'404 feet)
Flight distance:780 km
Solar Impulse HB-SIA, the first airplane designed to fly day and night without requiring fuel and without producing carbon emissions, demonstrates the enormous potential held by new technologies in terms of energy savings and renewable energy production. Seven years of intensive work, calculations and tests by a team of 70 people and 80 partners have contributed to producing this revolutionary carbon fiber airplane, with a wingspan as wide as that of an Airbus A340 (63.4m) and a weight equivalent to that of an average family car. It is the largest airplane of its weight ever to have been built. The 12,000 solar cells integrated into the wing supply four electric motors (maximum power 10CV each) with renewable energy and charge the 400kg lithium polymer batteries during the day, enabling the aircraft to fly at night. The Solar Impulse project is supported, among others, by: Solvay, Omega, Deutsche Bank and Schindler as Principal Partners; Bayer Material Science and Altran as Official Partners; EPFL (Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology) as Official Scientific Consultant and Dassault-Aviation as Aviation Consultant.
MASEN is in charge of the implementation of the integrated Moroccan Solar Plan, which aims at developing a minimum power capacity of 2,000 MW by 2020. By promoting solar resources through the development of solar power plants, MASEN contributes to the improvement of a national expertise and a competitive industrial network. By having a key role in research and development, MASEN becomes a leading force in regional and international solar energy.