Solar Impulse II featured on PBS’ NOVA

March 6, 2018

If you’re a fan of NOVA on PBS, you may have caught the story about the Solar Impulse II—the first plane to fly completely around the globe, over the course of 500 hours, fueled only by solar energy. But did you know that an ETEL motor from HEIDENHAIN played a key role in the historic journey?

The Solar Impulse II required an optimum performance-per-weight ratio, so every component, down to the smallest of screws, was made to be as light as possible. This included the need for a lightweight, but extremely efficient motor—and ETEL was up for the task. The motor’s direct drive technology is capable higher than 95% efficiency—vital in ensuring that the plane could make the most of the solar power absorbed by the panels.

The NOVA documentary, which first aired Jan. 31, 2018, on PBS, highlighted the plane’s 2015 journey from Abu Dhabi—calling it “one of the greatest aviation adventures of our time.” The documentary notes how the engineers and pilots (Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg) designed and built the plane from the ground up, even in the face of warnings from major aerospace manufacturers that the plane would be “impossible to control.”

This exciting program gives viewers an inside look at the adventure—through “moments of hair-raising crisis, remarkable endurance, and ingenious problem-solving.”

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