Why, in my humble opinion, Solarimpulse’s return to Brussels is not a failure but rather an aborted attempt to reach french airport Le Bourget.
Since its beginning, I have been a fanboy of the Solarimpulse project initiative powered by two leaders : Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.
Not only their are passionate, they provide a thorough reflexion on today’s world ability to waste energy and pollute mother Earth. At least, these two adventurers are doing something to try moving mountains amongst common people and elected officials.
On friday May 13th, I was fortunate to attend Solar Impulse (HB-SIA) landing at Brussels Airport. I was even more fortunate to meet Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg onsite in Hangar 117 thanks to the Bloggers ‘Up close tour’ and Morning breakfast.
André & Bertrand are not showing off or reluctant to share anything, they are aligned with their reputation of sharing a clear vision, dream and passion : change people’s habits and way to consume energy.
All along the Solarimpulse’s journey, since the drawing and proof of concept til the raising of prototype of Solarimpulse 1 (HB-SIA) and the forthcoming prototype 2 (HB-SIB), it was quite clear and communicated that this piece of technology was a prototype and a conveyor for messages, ideas and hopes. (not to replace common civil aviation nor host passengers).
(Attempt) Journey from Brussels (EBBR) to Le Bourget (LFPB)
Since its arrival in Brussels, it was the plan to fly then over to Le Bourget.
As clearly stated on its flight plan (see example from Flight plan to Brussels) it is an experimental flight. Not only this aircraft operates under heavy safety rules, it must also obey its design and blueprint limitations.
Yesterday, saturday June 11th was not only important to me as it was my youngest son birthday but also because Solarimpulse was going to attempt its second international flight to Paris. Now, besides being a fanboy, I have like all most of us only access to public information, whereas official press would have more insight information.
I understood from the feed on their internet website and the twitter feed from Solarimpulse and André Borschberg (the pilot) that after a many simulations and math, the team decided to move ahead and give the green light for departure.
Now weather conditions were quite challenging but the Solarimpulse team decided to reasonably going ahead and continue with the take off.
After take off, it seems that Eole was not really helping the team nor the pilot to fulfil their objective to reach Paris. On top of that, the aircraft gear wouldn’t go up and had to stay down, which also had an impact on its speed. C’est la vie …
Just before heading to bed, I ‘sadly’ heard the news that Solarimpulse was meant to head back to temporary base in Brussels (there is another myth that claims that André Borschberg was hungry and couldn’t wait nor resist Belgian food and hospitality… but that’s another blog entry).
Indeed, based on facts and figures, the Solarimpulse team (which includes the pilot of course) took the wise and clever decision to abort first temptative to reach Paris.
Kudos to the team for their sound wisdom and attitude for not listening to the outside pressure and temptation to carry on this test flight to Paris.
After all, what does matter the most ? The pilot’s life and the prototype aircraft in which so many people and crew invested time, energy, hopes (not to mention financial investment & money !). So was it the right decision ? Of course it was ! They are not there to jeopardize anyone safety nor the aircraft structure. I was relieved to hear André landed safely and I went on with sweet dreams…
This morning, when I woke up, I was really upset on some of the news I have read and seen. Most journalists powered by so called reliable press sources are first misusing the word ‘failure’ too many times and providing inaccurate or even made up information !
- For example Belga is mentionning a ‘first failure for Solarimpulse’ as seen in belgian newspaper ‘Le Soir’. Even the swiss are doing the needful, as seen in this tweet :
- RSRinfoRSRinfo : Mais pourquoi #Solarimpulse n’a-t-il pas pu rejoindre Paris hier ? Réponse ici http://ow.ly/1tHT6l
>The Swiss info is highlighting technical failure which, based on the public information is not correct. Also, journalist like round number but the SIA data is inaccurate, there are not 12000 solar cells on Solarimpulse but 11628 cells… shouldn’t journalists check their sources and most important read the official press releases ?
> Journalist, get forgiven and adopt a cell today !
- Even last friday, AFP was mentionning that Ela Borschberg, the son of André was reporting ….(..) when Ela is his daughter…
- Another press release was mentionning that Solarimpulse was sponsored by the European Union.. as far as I can tell and to the best of my knowledge, this is not the case. It’s faulty information as Solarimpulse is living on private and other sponsor funding. The fact the EU flag was added on aircraft is due to its visit to European HQ in Brussels but does not provide financial endorsement… Again wrong information… (I bet team would be thrilled to have more political commitment and funding but that’s another debate).
- . . .
That’s just an excerpt of the misleading and negative information broadcasted through professional channels.
The failure would thus have been to loose not only the pilot and/or the aircraft…
That’s the reason why in my humble opinion, this saturday whereabout was not a failure but rather an aborted attempt.
After all, the common safety rule ‘better safe than sorry’ must be used at all times.
My five cents from a local belgian fanboy who wanted to thank Solarimpulse team for their great work and encourage them for the second and hopefully successful attempt to Paris.
After all, quoting Bertrand Piccard ‘They are more knowlegeable’ now as they learned from new conditions and this first journey attempt to Paris….
All the best,