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13 - 29 June: Rabat-Ouarzazate-Rabat

A symbolic flight

As Bertrand Piccard stresses, the aim of Solar Impulse is not to "revolutionise aviation", but to make progress in exploring new possibilities. With this in mind, Ouarzazate was a highly symbolic final destination for the 2012 flights, as the largest solar power station ever built will be inaugurated there by 2020.

The journey therefore made perfect sense as well as laying down new challenges. The climate typical of southern Morocco, the region in which Ouarzazate is located, was new to the Solar project: a mountainous and highly arid desert region causing unstable atmospheric conditions. The Solar/Altran team prepared itself to take up this new challenge.

On 13 June at 8.07 a.m. (UTC+1), André Borschberg slipped into the cockpit of the HB-SIA and left Rabat airport for Ouarzazate. Eight hours later, as the plane was somewhere between Casablanca and Marrakesh, violent headwinds made it impossible to continue and the pilot was forced to turn back. At 0.14 a.m. (UTC+1), the plane returned to Rabat-Salé airport.

"This illustrates the difficulties that both the plane and the Solar Impulse teams overcome both in technological and human terms. I have every confidence in their ability to complete this stage in the very near future and I am sure that their emotion will be all the stronger.", declared Mustapha Bakkoury, President of the Masen executive board .

As always, this confidence in the Solar team proved well-founded. On 22 June, at 7.05 a.m. (UTC+1) and one week after the first attempt, André Borschberg climbed aboard his plane for a flight lasting 17 hours and 20 minutes which this time took him all the way to Ouarzazate.

Flying over the site of the future solar complex in Ouarzazate, the Solar Impulse plane inaugurated the construction of five huge solar parks. By linking their projects, Solar Impulse and the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (responsible for the implementation of the solar energy plan in Morocco) wished to create a strong emblem for the development of renewable solar energy. In the long-term, this pioneering project will enable Morocco to draw more than 40% of its energy from solar, wind and hydro power. More environmentally-friendly solutions can thus be found through hard work, research and innovation. This reflects Altran's corporate culture and Solar Impulse is a perfect illustration of this approach.