Solvay has celebrated the achievement of pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, who have completed their solar-powered world flight at the controls of Solar Impulse 2 (Si2).
In the all, the aircraft performed a 40,000 kilometre journey on just the sun's energy.
The Belgium-headquartered chemicals giant first became the first partner of Solar Impulse in 2004. The firm provided the craft with 15 products applied in more than 6,000 parts that helped harvest and store energy, optimised fuel consumption and lightened the load of the plane. It also supplied the composite materials for the wing spars and rear stabiliser parts.
The firm's chief executive Jean-Pierre Clamadieu thanked Piccard and Borschberg after they landed back in Abu Dhabi for their efforts.
He said: “On behalf of all Solvay employees, I would like to say a huge thank you for these 12 extraordinary years, marked with dreams, challenges, big and small technological victories.
“These 12 years were supported by your energy and remarkable personalities which built the success of Solar Impulse day after day.”
At around 2,300 kg, the plane weighed about as much as a minivan or a mid-sized lorry. An empty Boeing 747, in comparison, weighs 181,000kg. To help steady it during take-offs and landings, the plane was guided by runners and bicyclists.
Despite its historic mission, the Solar Impluse 2's journey was far from quick or problem-free. The pilots faced a nine-month delay a year ago after the plane's batteries were damaged during a flight from Japan to Hawaii.
Over its entire mission, Solar Impluse 2 completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at an average speed of between 28-56 mph. It made stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the US, Spain, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Its North American stops included California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
It took 70 hours for Piccard to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the first such flight by a solar-powered airplane. Borschberg's journey over the Pacific Ocean at 118 hours shattered the record for the longest flight duration by an aircraft flying solo.