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Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr deliver logistics support for Solar Impulse 2’s historic round-the-world trip

Solar Impulse 2’s historic mission to become the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the globe and to showcase that clean technologies can achieve the impossible was successfully achieved with the logistics support of Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr Airlines.

The Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) project chose Chapman Freeborn and Volga-Dnepr to provide comprehensive logistical assistance with the provision of both Cargo & Passenger chartered aircraft to transport spare parts, mobile hangar and the technical team to support the record-breaking round-the-world trip which started in March 2015 and came to a triumphant conclusion at the end of last month. The aircraft landed back in Abu Dhabi on 26 July 2016 after completing 23 days of flight and covering a distance of 43,041km over the course of its 17-leg journey.

In addition to providing the Solar Impulse team with highly-responsive support aircraft including a Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ IL-76TD-90VD and an ATR-72 for the mission, Chapman Freeborn’s Wings 24 in-house flight support team helped to manage the project’s operations, ranging from flight permits and customs clearances to ground handling and immigration arrangements for the transport airplanes.

The accompanying support aircraft were responsible for transporting over 25 tonnes of technical equipment as well as flying crew members and personnel throughout the mission. This required significant flexibility by Volga-Dnepr, which ensured an IL-76TD-90VD was on standby ready to support Solar Impulse 2 and be mobilized at extremely short notice.

Pierre van der Stichele, Cargo Business Development Director at Chapman Freeborn, said:

“Chapman Freeborn is honoured to have provided specialist support for the Si2 mission throughout its journey around the world. The challenge for all innovators is doing things that have not been done before – so we’re extremely proud to have been involved in this aviation industry first. The project required all of our global charter market expertise as we were working around Si2’s changeable flight schedules – with support solutions required in Asia, North America, Europe, and North Africa. We would also like to thank Volga-Dnepr for its professionalism for assisting in ensuring the cargo always reached its destination safely and on time.”

Georgy Sokolov, Regional Sales Manager at Volga-Dnepr Airlines, added:

“Volga-Dnepr Group is strongly committed to improving the environmental efficiency of its fleet and to embracing all levels of aviation innovation so it was a special pleasure for us to play a long-term role in the historic achievement of the Solar Impulse 2 team. This demanded a level of flexibility far beyond a usual charter operation as we had to be ready to mobilize our aircraft at extremely short notice. It was also appropriate that the modernized IL-76TD-90VD supporting Si2 features significantly improved operating efficiencies and lower emissions. As an industry, we must always be evaluating new technology that can make flying greener and more efficient and right now, in terms of showing what aviation may look like in the future, there is no better example than Solar Impulse 2.”

About Solar Impulse

Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (President) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and life force behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft able to fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions.

Supported by partners Solvay, Omega, Schindler, ABB, Google, Altran, Bayer Material Science, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Swisscom amongst others, Solar Impulse has been a history making project in the world of exploration and the world of renewable energies.

The Si2 aircraft has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747) for a weight of just 2,300 Kg, equivalent to that of a car. The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing supply four electric motors (17.5 CV each) with renewable energy. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633 Kg which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.

On the longest leg of the journey, Borschberg, 63, smashed the record for the longest uninterrupted journey in aviation history with the 8,924 kilometre flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii that lasted nearly 118 hours.

The round the world route:

Flight 1: Abu Dhabi to Muscat
Flight 2: Muscat to Ahmedabad
Flight 3: Ahmedabad to Varanasi
Flight 4: Varanasi to Mandalay
Flight 5: Mandalay to Chongqing
Flight 6: Chongqing to Nanjing
Flight 7: Nanjing to Nagoya
Flight 8: Nagoya to Hawaii
Flight 9: Hawaii to San Francisco
Flight 10: San Francisco to Phoenix
Flight 11: Phoenix to Tulsa
Flight 12: Tulsa to Dayton
Flight 13: Dayton to Lehigh Valley
Flight 14: Lehigh Valley to New York
Flight 15: New York to Seville
Flight 16: Seville to Cairo
Flight 17: Cairo to Abu Dhabi

About Chapman Freeborn

Chapman Freeborn Airchartering was established in the UK in 1973. The company has over 30 locations worldwide and specialises in the charter and lease of aircraft for a wide ranging client base including freight forwarders, multinational corporations, governments, humanitarian agencies and a host of industries around the globe.

In addition to air cargo charters and on board courier (OBC) services, Chapman Freeborn offers specialist passenger services including private jet and helicopter charters for executive travel and large aircraft for crew rotations and international group travel.

Over the last decade, Chapman Freeborn has received more than 20 top aviation industry awards for service and innovation, including the recent Charter Provider of the Year title at the STAT Times Awards 2016, held in Mumbai.

About Volga-Dnepr

Volga-Dnepr Group is the world leader in the unique, oversize and heavy cargo market and the biggest Russian air cargo carrier. The Group’s companies include the charter operator Volga-Dnepr Airlines and scheduled cargo airline, AirBridgeCargo (ABC). Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ fleet includes 12 An-124-100 “Ruslan” and five modernized IL-76TD-90VD cargo aircraft. The current ABC fleet includes 15 Boeing 747s (seven 747-400F and eight 747-8F). In June 2011, Atran Airlines joined Volga-Dnepr Group, operating a fleet of Boeing 737-400 freighters. Volga-Dnepr Technics (VDT) is a separate business unit within Volga-Dnepr Group. It provides a wide range of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services for the Group’s scheduled and charter cargo airlines as well as for third party customers.