André Borschberg is a Swiss businessman and pilot. He is a co-founder of the Solar Impulse project and on 7 July 2010, completed the first 24-hour solar powered flight. The flight set records for the longest manned solar-powered flight, and the greatest height reached by a manned solar aircraft. He currently holds 8 FAI World Records awarded during 3 flights with Solar Impulse 1.
Borschberg flew as a jet pilot in the Swiss Air Force prior to his work with Solar Impulse. An engineer by education and a graduate of the MIT Sloan School of Management, André Borschberg has solid experience in creating and managing companies. His passion for aviation and his interest in innovative solutions have led him to team up with Bertrand Piccard as CEO, Co-Founder and Pilot of Solar Impulse.
Fascinated by aviation from his earliest youth, André Borschberg trained as a pilot in the Swiss air force, flying first Venoms and then Hunters and Tigers for over 20 years. Today he holds both professional aeroplane and helicopter pilots' licences and also does aerobatics in his spare time.
Engineer and management career
After graduating from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in mechanics and thermodynamics, André Borschberg has constantly developed and led numerous technology projects, companies and start-ups, as both investor and entrepreneur. He very quickly supplemented his training with a Master's in Management Science from the MIT Sloan School of Management, preceded by certificates in financial management and business management at HEC Lausanne. He first joined McKinsey, one of the world's leading business consultancies, as a consultant for 5 years, before starting his own entrepreneurial activities. His strong points are business organisation, management and development. From finance to marketing, from engineering to human resources, André Borschberg has acquired solid experience as an entrepreneur, manager and consultant for over 20 years. He went initially into partnership with a venture capital company, Lowe Finance. His vast range of professional skills, his versatility and his perseverance enabled him to successfully launch two start-ups in the Internet and new technologies field. With a technical team from EPFL, he co-founded Innovative Silicon, a technology company in the field of microprocessor memories.
At the head of the project Solar Impulse with Bertrand Piccard, André Borschberg brings the essential skills of an entrepreneur who contributes to convert vision into reality. As the CEO, he has put together and motivated a team of 65 top specialists and numerous partners, all from very diverse horizons and origins. "This diversity we have sought at every level stimulates their creativity and gives them their strength. It is from this pooling of experiences that original and totally-new solutions arise.”
As a mechanical engineer and pilot, he is directing the construction of the aircraft and the preparation of the flight missions. "We need to find a way to build an aircraft that is super-robust & super-light at the same time, and above all extremely efficient with energy consumption, so as to need only minuscule amounts of energy in order to fly. But with the same degree of resistance as a normal airplane. Hence the great complexity of the project, which gives the true measure of its philosophy and its objectives."
Solar Impulse 1 Missions
- Solar Night Flight:
On 7 July 2010, André Borschberg has, for the first time in history, flown 26 hours with the Solar Impulse aeroplane, demonstrating at the same time the possibilities to fly day and night with only solar energy to propel the aeroplane.
- European Solar Flights:
Solar Impulse HB-SIA, piloted by André Borschberg, completed three international flights during the European campaign: Payerne to Brussels on 13 May (630 km), Brussels to Paris-Le Bourget on 14 June (395 km) and Paris-Le Bourget to Payerne on 3 July (426 km).
- Crossing frontiers:
Solar Impulse, piloted alternatively by André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, made its first intercontinental flight in 2012 from Switzerland (Payerne) to Toulouse, and then on to Morocco.
- Across America:
Solar Impulse has completed the historic crossing of the United States over a 2-month period of the summer of 2013. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the two pilots, flew from San Francisco to New York, stopping over in cities along the way.
From San Francisco to Phoenix on the 3-4 May, Piccard was the pilot, and then it was Borschberg on 22-23 May during the flight to Dallas. On 3-4 June, Bertrand flew to St-Louis and on 10-11 June, André Borschberg was the pilot from St-Louis to Washington DC. Bertrand Piccard flew the Solar Impulse plane to New York, the final destination, on 6 July.
With a round the world flight scheduled for 2015, these flights have provided good learning opportunities in terms of slotting the solar aircraft into international air space and landing at international airports.
FAI World Records
André Borschberg achieved 8 FAI world records flying with Solar Impulse 1. During three historical flights (2010 night flight, 2012 Payerne to Madrid and 2013 Phoenix to Dallas), he was awarded 8 FAI World records: free distance, free distance along a course, straight distance, straight distance predeclared waypoints, distance along a course, duration, absolute altitude, gain of height).
- Alan Cowell (8 July 2010). "Solar-Powered Plane Flies for 26 Hours". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- CNN (29 November 2011). "Can solar power fuel future flight". CNN. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
- "Bertrand Piccard; Explorer, c'est aller au delà des évidences", L'Express, 1 August 2012, pp. 6–9.
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