The Solar Impulse project, launched by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, has set itself the goal of circumnavigating the globe in an airplane powered day and night using nothing but solar energy by 2015. The second solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse 2 was unveiled by Solar Impulse at a press conference in Payerne, Switzerland on April 9th, 2014.
Omega had an important role as one of Solar Impulse’s Main Partners, providing both capital support and key technology to a venture that will contribute to the scientific and ecological development of alternative means of sustainable energy.
Solar Impulse 2 is expected to become the first plane to circle the globe using the sun as its only source of energy and has been built to meet this challenge. It is equipped with several new and improved technologies developed by Omega which have been introduced to make the airplane more energy efficient, like, a lighter, more efficient landing light system, an upgraded, lightweight version of the Omega Instrument and an energy dispatcher which transfers energy from one engine to another in the event one experiences an energy deficiency. Omega has also contributed to lighter electronics inside the plane’s dashboard.
The Omega Instrument, designed by Swiss aeronautics legend and ESA Astronaut, Claude Nicollier, indicates the degree of inclination of the airplane and can be read easily by the pilot. There are vibrating alarm devices in the sleeves of the flight suits which will ensure that the pilot will react in a timely fashion to the critical information provided by the instrument. For the Solar Impulse 2, Omega has introduced an energy dispatcher that ensures that if one of the four Solar Impulse engines experiences a problem, energy can be rebalanced between them by transferring energy from the battery of the deficient engine to the battery of the operative engine. Omega also has a lightweight landing light system which weighs an astonishing three grams per watt.
At the press conference, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg sported the Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33. The multi-function quartz chronograph has been designed for adventurers and explorers. The black dial, with its white indexes and hour markers, has a central opening allowing the wearer to read the displayed digital elements such as the hour, minute and seconds of up to three different time zones, three alarms, chronograph and countdown functions, and a perpetual calendar with day, date, month, year and week number indications. The new Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 model has been tested and certified by the European Space Agency (ESA) and was developed based on an ESA patent filed by astronaut Jean-François Clervoy.