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Solar plane leaves Egypt on last leg of first ever fuel-free flight around the globe

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
Solar plane leaves Egypt on last leg of first ever fuel-free flight around the globe

An aircraft powered by solar energy has left Egypt on the last leg of the first ever fuel-free flight around the globe.

The single-seat Solar Impulse 2 took off from Cairo in darkness en route to Abu Dhabi, its final destination, with a flight expected to take between 48 and 72 hours.

The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies.

"The round the world flight ends in Abu Dhabi, but not the project," Mr Piccard said a few days before takeoff.

Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings.

It relies on solar energy collected during the day and stored in batteries for electrical energy to fly at night.

The carbon fibre plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car can climb to about 8,500 metres and cruise at 55-100km/h.

"The project is a big promotion of clean technologies around the world and the legacy of Solar Impulse is the created international community," Mr Piccard said