Solar Impulse 2 getting ready to depart after nine-month island - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Solar Impulse 2 getting ready to depart after nine-month island layover

KALAELOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A solar-powered airplane could leave Hawaii as early as next week after a nine-month layover on a round-the-world flight.

Solar Impulse 2 landed at Kalaeloa Airport July 3 after a record-breaking flight from Japan that took 118 hours. Since then, there are a lot of things that have kept the plane here.

The long flight ended up frying the plane's batteries, which led to other delays.

"We had to change the batteries because we overinsulated them," said Solar Impulse 2 co-pilot and founder Andre Borschberg. "They were too well-insulated and they became a little bit too warm because of the flight we did."

The delay caused by the battery replacement also pushed SI2 past the window to resume the flight. That's because winter was coming, meaning less sunlight during the day to power the aircraft at night.

"For us we need the sun," said Borschberg. "We have the ocean underneath, so we'd better have a sunny situation, so we'll make sure that this is the case because of the low level of battery by the end of the night."

The energy company ABB said the solar energy system used by the plane is the same kind of microgrid that can be utilized to provide power on earth.

"It in effect is a microgrid in itself," said ABB's Bob Stojanovich. "It has solar generation on its wings through the 17,000-plus solar cells."

"We fly the grid, and they install the grid," said Borschberg.

Days are getting longer, so Solar Impulse 2 is now back in the window to start its next leg to North America, with possible landing spots in Phoenix, the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, and Vancouver. Until then, it waits in a hangar at Kalaeloa Airport for the right weather conditions -- and sunshine -- to develop along the route from Hawaii to the West Coast.

And despite the delay, the Solar Impulse crew said it appreciated the hospitality and beauty of the islands.

""I tell you it was not too difficult to stay in this marvelous part of the world," said Borschberg. "Nobody complained on the team, that's for sure." 

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