Only days before launching a historic, round-the-world flight, the Solar Impulse 2 staged a 12h test flight on 26 February from Abu Dhabi.

The single-seat craft is now poised to begin the first solar-powered circumnavigation of the Earth with 25 flight days spread over about five months and 12 stops.

Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg completed the training flight with a staged go-around of the Abu Dhabi International airport, finally landing shortly after 21:00 on Runway 31.

“We are really getting close to our [round-the-world] adventure,” says Bertrand Piccard, founder of Solar Impulse.

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Solar Impulse

The mostly low-altitude flight over the capital of the UAE was coordinated from a control centre in Monaco and a locally-based ground crew.

Borschberg and fellow pilot Piccard are preparing for a journey not unlike the 1986 non-stop, nine-day circumnavigation of the global by Voyager pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager.

Unlike the Voyager’s fuelled, non-stop flight, the Solar Impulse 2 will not carry any fuel and will make several stops. However, Borschberg and Piccard will complete multiple flights lasting more than five days in an unpressurised and unheated cockpit.

More than 17,200 solar cells laid across a 72m (236ft) wingspan will feed electric power to four 17.5hp engines driving propellers.