The International Airline Transport Association announced it has become an institutional partner of Solar Impulse, the solar airplane project that will fly around the world with no fuel and zero emissions. The agreement was signed by the president of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, and the director general of IATA, Giovanni Bisignani, and establishes a framework of cooperation between the two organizations. IATA would provide assistance to ensure the smooth passage of the solar plane around the world.
Giovanni Bisignani said, “Solar Impulse and IATA share a vision, both looking towards a zero carbon emission future for air travel, and the Solar Impulse initiative is proof that with vision anything is possible, even carbon free flight.” Bertrand Piccard explained, “Our future freedom relies on us converting to renewable energy sources as soon as possible and thus the vision set by IATA to eliminate all polluting emissions within the next 50 years is admirable.”
Solar Impulse is building the first prototype airplane that aims to demonstrate the feasibility of flying day and night propelled exclusively by solar energy. The first test flights are expected to take place in early 2009. In 2011, Bertrand Piccard and CEO of Sonar Impulse, Andre Borschberg, plan to fly around the world with five stopovers. IATA aims to provide support including assistance in obtaining air traffic control clearance. The director general of IATA concluded, “Achieving zero carbon passenger flights will not happen overnight and no single initiative can provide all the answers but we can already see the potential building blocks for a carbon-free future; along with solar power, other exciting initiatives include progress in fuel cell technology, and fuel made from biomass.”