Month: March 2020

Life goes on…

Our thoughts are with you all!

It is in a specific context that we are sending you this month’s newsletter as Switzerland, Europe and much of the world are living in slow motion, under the heavy weight of a virulent virus.

At SolarStratos, we are experiencing these difficult times like everyone else, in confinement and closely adhering to the instructions of the political authorities.

We are thinking of you all – dear friends, partners and supporters – and wish you good health above all. We will all need to stay positive in the face of this crisis.

The following newsletter is in no way intended to divert our thoughts from those that are suffering or who are sick, but rather, to take a little distance for a moment. Our solar plane and stratospheric flight plans may seem anecdotal these days but remember that our objective – beyond the technical achievement – is to accomplish today what seemed impossible yesterday. To dream of a better world.

A paradigm shift and awareness are imperative, and the current situation is a dramatic reminder of this. Our project sits, humbly, in this context.

Aircraft assembly

The new SolarStratos wings are being finalised at CSEM – the first one is complete, while work on the second one was temporarily interrupted for obvious reasons. Final assembly is underway with our partner in Wohlen and the rest of the process, which should lead us to the first flight of the year, will be dictated by the current situation. The byword over the coming months will be ‘patience’.

First flight objectives

Our test pilots, Damian Hischier and Miguel Iturmendi are ready to get back to work as soon as possible. Their average workday is quite different to most, it consists of flying all kinds of aircraft that have never taken off before, or as in the case of SolarStratos, that have undergone substantial modification.

The objective of the full-scale SolarStratos test flights will be to check the aircraft’s stability, firstly maximising its performance with a single pilot and then with the equivalent weight of a second pilot on the back seat, and finally, with a second pilot.

For the moment, Damian Hischier and Miguel Iturmendi are working on the test flight programme with our flight operations manager, Philippe Pilloud. It will then be a matter of gradually expanding the flight scope, before climbing higher and higher. From there, ‘the sky is the limit’!

Good news from Payerne aerodrome

The opening hours of the Payerne aerodrome have changed, closing time has been adjusted from 1800 to 2200. This is great news for us as it means that, weather-permitting, we will be able to fly more frequently and for longer periods, thus accelerating the pace of improvements and updates on our experimental prototype HB-SXA.

Pilot training

Raphaël Domjan, the man behind the SolarStratos project and future pilot of the aircraft, is as focussed as ever on his preparations. In addition to the physical training, and as far as he can, he is also working on his mind and technique. Last month, before this global crisis hit, he spent some time dedicated to parachute jumps and testing his rescue parachute.

We hope that you will enjoy the impressive and very beautiful photos from these sessions.