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- THE i PROJECT
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Eleonora Grava - Altran Expert for Strategy & Flight Forecast
"Within the Solar Impulse project, I am part of the Strategy and Flight Forecast team, which I joined in December 2014. Our aim is to find the optimal flight strategy and define the route, taking into account several factors, such as the weather conditions, ATC (Air Traffic Control) restrictions, battery state of charge, flight duration, geography and the comfort of the pilot.
All these factors are also correlated together. For example, ATC restrictions, like the altitude above a certain way point (coordinates) are decisive for what concerns the ground speed. In case of favourable winds, the more you climb, the more you benefit from tailwinds, and thus increase your ground speed, a good way to reduce the duration of the flight.
Furthermore, if weather conditions are bad regarding the cloudiness for instance, the batteries will not be recharged 100%. This is a problem not only for the leg itself, but also for the next leg, especially if there is only a pit-stop in between. Everything has to be taken into account for the comfort of the pilot. High altitude flights require the use of an oxygen mask, but wearing it makes it really uncomfortable to eat, drink, speak and even breathe.
I think that Solar Impulse is an innovative and pioneering project that could represent a turning point in this technological world, being a compromise between innovation and environmental impact."