The Solar Impulse project recently received a burst of sunshine in the form of financial support from a commercial insurance firm, bolstering the team’s plans to complete the world’s first global circumnavigation by a piloted, solar-powered aircraft.
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions (Booth No. 3517) announced in mid-September it had joined the Solar Impulse project as an official partner. In addition to financial support, the Zurich-based firm will also be the sole insurer for the Solar Impulse aircraft. That addresses what has historically been a sticking point for similarly ambitious projects: Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard noted that his grandfather had difficulties finding a company to insure his 1931 high-altitude balloon flight.
Agostino Galvagni, CEO of the insurance provider, termed the partnership with Solar Impulse “an excellent fit between two organizations that share a belief that innovation can flourish when knowledge and expertise is combined across industries.”
The original single-seat Solar Impulse prototype completed a successful 26-hour day-and-night flight in July 2010. Development and construction work continues on a second, larger prototype, the Solar Impulse HB-SIB, intended to complete a round-the-world flight sometime in 2015. –R.F.