Singapore - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has become an Institutional Partner of Solar Impulse – the solar airplane that will fly around the world with no fuel and zero emissions. The agreement, signed by Bertrand Piccard, President of Solar Impulse and Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO of IATA, establishes a framework for cooperation between the two organisations. IATA will provide assistance to ensure the smooth passage of the solar plane around the world.

Giovanni Bisignani said, “Solar Impulse and IATA share a vision. We are natural partners. We are both looking towards a zero carbon emission future for air travel. Solar power is one of the building blocks that will make this happen. The Solar Impulse initiative is proof that with vision anything is possible – even carbon free flight.”

“Our future freedom relies on us converting to renewable energy sources as soon as possible. In this sense, the vision set by IATA to eliminate all polluting emissions within the next 50 years is admirable,” explained Bertrand Piccard, Initiator and President of Solar Impulse.

Solar Impulse is building the first prototype airplane that aims to demonstrate the feasibility of flying day and night, only propelled by solar energy. The first test flights will take place in early 2009. In 2011, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, CEO, will fly around the world with five stop-overs. IATA will help make this dream a reality by providing support including assistance in obtaining air traffic control clearance.

“In one year’s time, Solar Impulse will fly without any polluting emissions, but will carry only one person. To achieve IATA’s vision there are a little more than 40 years left to find a way to increase the payload to a few hundred passengers,” said Piccard.

Bisignani added, “Achieving zero carbon passenger flights will not happen overnight. And no single initiative can provide all the answers. But the airline industry was born by realising a dream that people could fly. 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. By working together with a common vision, an even greener industry is absolutely achievable.”

Notes for Editors :

  • IATA represents some 240 airlines comprising 94% of scheduled international air traffic.
  • Its mission is to “represent, lead and serve the airline industry.”
  • IATA's four pillar strategy on the environment comprises
    • Investing in new technology;
    • Operating planes effectively;
    • Building and using efficient infrastructure;
    • And considering positive economic measures including tax credits and research grants.
  • The four-pillar strategy will lead to carbon neutral growth in the medium term and in the next 50 years we aim to achieve zero carbon emissions technology.
  • Solar Impulse has set a goal to produce a plane propelled exclusively by solar energy, which will take off under its own power and fly day and night, and achieve a round-the-world flight without fuel or pollution.
  • In order to complete the round-the-world flight, two airplanes are being built.
    • The prototype, registration number HB-SIA, will have a 61 metre wingspan for 1500 kg
    • The final (or record) airplane HB-SIB will likely have an 80 metre wingspan for 2000 kg