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Solar Impulse makes its transatlantic solar-powered crossing

Swiss officials say an experimental solar-powered airplane has completed a three-day flight across the Atlantic in the latest leg of its globe-circling voyage.

The Aero-Club of Switzerland said the Solar Impulse 2 landed in Seville in southern Spain at 0540 GMT on Thursday, ending a 70-hour flight which began from New York City on Monday.

It was the 15th leg of a planned around-the-world flight which began in March 2015 from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

The Solar Impulse 2’s wings, which stretch wider than those of a Boeing 747, are equipped with 17,000 solar cells that power propellers and charge batteries. The plane runs on stored energy at night.

The Aero-Club of Switzerland is responsible for validating records of the flight.

“The Atlantic has always been this symbol of going from the Old World to the New World, and everybody has tried to cross the Atlantic with sail boats, steam boats, airships, airplanes, balloons, even rowing boats,” pilot Bertrand Piccard said in a speech after landing in Seville.

“Today, it’s a solar-powered airplane for the first time ever, flying electric, with no fuel and no pollution,” Piccard added.

While the latest flight represents an historic achievement, the project has not been without its hurdles.

Last summer, the plane suffered “irreversible damage to overheated batteries” after a flight between Nagoya and Hawaii that lasted more than 117 hours. It had to be grounded for several months while repairs took place.

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