World’s first solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 grounded; halts its record-breaking round-the-world flight until 2016

Clara Guibourg
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The round-the-world flight has been put on hold until 2016 (Source: Getty)

The world's completely solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, has had to halt its round-the-world journey in Hawaii after overheating its batteries in a record-breaking flight.

Pilots of the experimental plane, the first of its kind, were attempting to circle the globe powered only by the sun’s rays.

But today its website was updated:

Breaking news: Irreversible damage to overheated batteries pushes the second half of round-the-world solar flight to April 2016.

Built with carbon fibres, the Solar Impulse 2 plane is much lighter than a normal plane, and has a far wider wingspan - wider even than a Boeing 747. This is because it must fit some 17,000 solar cells on the wings to power its propellers.

Read more: This is why solar-powered planes would be better than traditional planes

Swiss explorers and pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Bourschberg began their solar-powered journey in Abu Dhabi in March, stopping along the way in UAE, Oman, Myanmar, China and Japan.

With Solar Impulse 2, they broke a flight record by managing a non-stop flight lasting five days and nights without using any fuel.

The airplane will now remain at the University of Hawaii for repairs and further research.

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