Solar-powered plane on way to California from Hawaii

Bertrand Piccard is on the way to California from Hawaii flying a totally solar-powered plane he and fellow pilot-inventor Andre Borschberg developed.

To help the pilots withstand extreme temperatures, low oxygen and high stress levels while navigating a 1.6-kilogram sliver of carbon fibre 8,500 meters above the earth, a team of eight Nestlé Research experts and scientists has developed healthy and tasty, tailor-made menus as well as innovative packaging solutions.

Nestlé Research has worked closely with the Solar Impulse team for over five years, developing a range of meals and snacks that can withstand extreme variations in temperature and climatic conditions, while meeting the specific nutritional needs of the pilots.

As part of the mission, a dedicated nutrition expert will provide ongoing support and will monitor the pilots´ health and collect relevant data for future products. Throughout their journey across the US and the Atlantic Ocean, the pilots will be fueled by meals made and packaged on Nestlé USA´s campus in Solon, Ohio, where the company invested USD50 million in a new research and development facility in 2015.

The data captured during the flight and the learnings from the five years of work with Solar Impulse will provide valuable insights for the development of future products, such as foods that meet targeted needs for specific population groups.

A dedicated Nestlé research scientist is following the plane, managing the diet and nutrition of the pilots and ensuring that the correct amounts of food are available.

Completion of the flight is expected in the summer and the plane is scheduled to be spanning 35,000 kilometres and some 500 hours of actual flying time.

Swiss pioneers Piccard (Chairman) and Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft able to fly day and night without a drop of fuel, propelled solely by the sun´s energy.

After the original Solar Impulse Si1 prototype which holds eight world records, Si2 engineers have designed and constructed a new single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber. It has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747) for a weight of just 2,300 kg, equivalent to that of a car.

The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing supply electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. The solar cells recharge four lithium batteries totaling 633 kg each, which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore have virtually unlimited autonomy.