Altran Preparing the Route for the Solar Impulse Trans-American Flight

May 21, 2013, 09:00 ET from Altran

PARIS, May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Solar Impulse has taken up yet another challenge in preparation of its 2015 round-the-world flight; to cross the United States, from coast to coast, this spring.

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For the Altran teams, as Engineering Partner of the Solar Impulse, the opportunity of accompanying the solar plane on a fuel-free mission spanning more than 5,000km is yet another highly motivating challenge. Within the context of their mission, the teams will have to make strategic flight planning decisions to take into account the chaotic and highly diversified US landscape, with its mountain ranges, open plains, coastal areas and desert regions, as well as dealing with complex weather conditions.

This is why, even before take-off, the work that Altran carries out in close collaboration with meteorologists, is of vital importance in determining the flight-path possibilities open to the solar plane.

In order to get the "go" or "no go" for flight take-off decision and flight paths, Altran has developed a set of analysis and calculation tools. Based on the modelling of complex phenomena and integrating the latest meteorological and air traffic control data, these tools allow for rapid decision making from take-off to touch-down, which can sometimes be the most complex part of the flight.

To assess the dates and flight paths, and give the aircraft the best possible chances of succeeding its mission, Altran experts have explored four billion different flight possibilities.

Weather change, the major preoccupation for ground crews, must be constantly monitored. To accompany this incredible trans-American flight, team work is of the utmost importance.

Concerning the role of Altran, Bertrand Piccard, the initiator, chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse, stressed that "The success of the mission will mainly depend on the flight-path choices we make with the Altran team. Sometimes, these choices are made a couple of hours before take-off. For us, Altran is not just an external consultant on the project, but a real member of the team".

Watch Altran's video "Solar Impulse across America"