Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered fixed-wing aircraft that is capable of flying during the day and night, has completed its first flight out of the Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland today.

The second iteration of the Solar Impulse aircraft which successfully flew across the US, Solar Impulse 2 has the lofty ambition of carrying out the first solar-powered flight around the world next year.

The single-seater aircraft is constructed out of carbon fibre and boasts a wingspan of 72 metres, equivalent of an Airbus A340. Weighing in at just 2,300kg, the plane is powered by the 17,000 solar cells built into the wings which help recharge a bank of lithium batteries.

In its inaugural flight, the aircraft managed a 2 hour 17 minute flight in the hands of test pilot, Marcus Scherdel. The team behind Solar Impulse 2 have reported that the initial results from the flight are in line with its calculations and simulations.

André Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot said: “This inaugural flight is an important stage – a step closer towards the round-the-world flight. It is also a huge emotional step for the entire team and all our partners who have worked on the aircraft. Si2 incorporates a vast amount of new technology to render it more efficient, reliable and in particular better adapted to long haul flights. It is the first aircraft which will have almost unlimited endurance.”

The footage below shows the Solar Impulse 2 taking off for the first time:

Borschberg believes that projects like Solar Impulse can work as symbols for the clean tech movement. He said: “If governments had the courage to promote clean technologies on a massive scale, our society could simultaneously reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, create jobs and stimulate sustainable growth. This success captured the imagination of many political authorities, who began using Solar Impulse as an encouraging example to motivate implementation of more ambitious energy and environmental programs.”