The Solar impulse plane that has been in development for seven years successfully completed a 24 hour test flight yesterday proving that solar power can produce enough energy to keep a plane in the air even at night.
André Borschberg piloted the pioneering solar impulse plane and made a successful landing at Payerne airfield, with marshals and workers hurrying to the halted plane to ensure the large wings did not unbalance the aircraft.
The design teams ultimate aim is to develop an aircraft capable of circumnavigating the Earth continuously without having to land, a feat which has never been achieved by a aircraft powered by renewable energy.
The flight was not as straight forward as ex fighter pilot Borschberg would have hoped. He had to use his years of skill to fly below turbulence and storms that could have put the experiment in jeopardy.
The experiment has shown that solar powered flight is possible; the team admits that this type of technology will not be ready to take over conventional fossil fuelled planes any time soon but stands as stepping stone towards a cleaner form of air travel.
The Solar impulse includes 12,000 solar panels designed to harness the power of the sun from the most acute of angles, the team intend to develop a new plane with the aim of flying over the Atlantic ocean.