Calling it an “audacious, historic and transformative expedition,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Solar Impulse aircraft Monday as it awaited the next leg of its worldwide, solar-powered journey in a hangar at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
Mr. Ban met the airplane’s pilots, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, as well as the Solar Impulse ground crew and Olivier Zehnder, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, for a quick look at the one-seat, lightweight aircraft that has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. The Secretary-General previously had met the pilots at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference last December and had spoken to Piccard via satellite while Solar Impulse was in flight during the 22 April Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony, but Monday was the first time Mr. Ban got to see the aircraft in person.
“The ideas and actions of the Solar Impulse team and other bold innovators will help us meet the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Ban said, referring to Goal 7 of the SDGs, Affordable and Clean Energy. The Solar Impulse’s 27,000-mile journey is being powered by 17,000 solar cells built into carbon fiber wings.
“As we see before us, innovation and experimentation will help us move into a sustainable future,” Mr. Ban said. “The science used in this flight can also be put to use here on the ground. The plane’s technologies can help halve the world’s energy consumption, save natural resources and improve our quality of life.”
The Solar Impulse will recharge in New York until weather conditions are clear for its next leg to Europe. The plane plans to complete its worldwide voyage in late summer in Abu Dhabi.
Watch the UN’s Facebook Live feed of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/unitednations/
Watch the UN’s Periscope feed of the event here: https://www.periscope.tv/w/1ynKOPLqEeOGR
More on the Solar Impulse here: http://www.solarimpulse.com/
More on Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy here: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/energy/