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Economy

San Diego Company Helps Solar-Powered Aircraft

In this photo released by Solar Impulse, "Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered airplane flies after taking off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 9, 2015.
Associated Press / Jean Revillard, Solar Impulse
In this photo released by Solar Impulse, "Solar Impulse 2", a solar-powered airplane flies after taking off from Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 9, 2015.

A San Diego mobile Internet company is assisting a team that Monday completed the first leg of a round-the-world flight of a solar-powered aircraft.

XCom Global Inc. is providing wireless Internet access to the group traveling with the aircraft, which is dubbed Solar Impulse.

The single-seat plane was flown about 215 miles over a dozen hours today from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to Muscat, Oman. It has four engines, a wingspan of 236 feet and fuel cells that store energy for the night.

The team, led by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, hope to become the first to fly an aircraft around the world without using fuel. They will take turns at the controls for a dozen planned flights.

Related: Solar-Powered Airplane Embarks On Attempt To Circle Planet

"An undertaking of this kind takes an incredible amount of planning, organization, coordination, and communication — and Internet access is critical in the process," said Joe Fennell, XCom's chief operating officer. "This team needs 24/7 connectivity the minute they touch down — and that's where we come in."

The Solar Impulse team plans to complete their journey in five months, with stops between legs to rest, perform maintenance and promote the use of clean energy.

They do not contemplate a landing in San Diego, but a trans-Pacific leg will take the aircraft, which is covered with solar panels, on an estimated 100- hour trip from Hawaii to Phoenix.

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