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From the Moon
to the Sun

In the 1960s, OMEGA and the rest of the world looked to the Moon. The first lunar landing has been described as mankind’s greatest technological achievement. More than 50 years later, priorities have changed and OMEGA and its Solar Impulse partners have successfully tapped into the power of the sun to address our planet’s pending ecological crisis.




around around

For the health of our planet

Since 2006, OMEGA has provided significant technological expertise to help the Solar Impulse team meet its goal of circumnavigating the globe in an airplane powered only by energy from the sun. The mission is on track for 2015 and while it will certainly mark the pinnacle of the project, there have been a number of other extraordinary milestones that have paved the way for the ultimate round-the-world journey.

Like our partners in the Solar Impulse project, we at OMEGA are concerned about the planet’s finite resources. The success of Solar Impulse reminds us that an enormously powerful energy source only eight light-minutes away has the potential to reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources and fossil fuels. There is no nobler aspiration than that of improving our planet’s health and enhancing its sustainability.

Solar Impulse and OMEGA

Past, present and future

Discover the milestones that have paved the way to the round-the-world
adventure in 2015.



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2003

Solar Impulse initiator, chairman and pilot Bertrand Piccard presents the idea of a solar-powered airplane to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, which agrees to do a feasibility study whose leadership was entrusted to engineer and professional pilot André Borschberg. Later that year, on 28 November, the project was officially launched.

2006

OMEGA becomes a Main Partner of the Solar Impulse project following a particularly moving and convincing presentation Piccard prepared for Swatch Group Chairman Nicolas G. Hayek and Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek.

2007

A prototype of the HB-SIA plane is unveiled at a special event attended by Nicolas G. Hayek and Nick Hayek Jr. At the event, OMEGA presents its first contribution to the Solar Impulse project: the test bench. This important testing system enables the Solar Impulse team to simulate the plane’s electrical system.

2008

OMEGA presents a special Solar Impulse exhibit at the OMEGA Pavilion at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games where the brand is serving as Official Timekeeper. The exhibit includes a virtual display of the pilot’s controls and a large-scale model of HB-SIA.

2009

HB-SIA, the first aircraft designed to fly both day and night without fossil fuel, is unveiled on 26 June. This plane has a wingspan of a Boeing 747-400, weighs 1700 kilograms, and has more than 12,000 solar cells mounted on its wings to supply renewable energy to four electric motors.

2010

Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel begins the test flights of HB-SIA. On 7 July, Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO André Borschberg completes the first night flight in the history of solar aviation. The pilots’ flights mark the first time that two new OMEGA technologies are used: the vibrating sleeves and the OMEGA Instrument, which was created by former ESA astronaut Claude Nicollier, the head of Solar Impulse’s flight test operations. A couple months after the first night flight, the aircraft is flown across Switzerland.

2012

HB-SIA completes its first intercontinental flight when it is flown over the Mediterranean Sea from Payerne, Switzerland to Morocco. The voyage was divided into seven legs.

2013

Solar Impulse makes its way across the United States of America, flying from San Francisco to New York City with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis and Washington D.C.

2014

Solar Impulse 2 (HB-SIB or Si2) is presented to the public in April. Abu Dhabi is selected as the host city for the next phase of the Solar Impulse project: the 2015 round-the-world flight.

2015

In March, the round-the-world Solar Impulse flight will take off from Abu Dhabi and over five months the pilots will stop in Asia, North America and Southern Europe, flying day and night, to complete the first solar-powered circumnavigation of the world.

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OMEGA’s contributions

OMEGA has made use of its international platform to share the successes of the Solar Impulse project with the world. Beyond broadcasting the historic milestones and achievements that have highlighted the journey to the Solar Impulse 2’s round-the-world journey, OMEGA has also contributed a number of important technological innovations to help the whole Solar Impulse team achieve its goals.

   
   

Lightweight landing lights system

The lightweight landing lights system was a necessary addition to the HB-SIA and it has been enhanced for Si2’s round-the-world adventure – the system used on the new solar-powered plane is twice as efficient as the previous version. The entire system, which includes promotional and landing LED lights, the focusing lenses, cables, power transformer and connectors, weighs just one kilogram!

OMEGA Instrument
Energy Dispatcher
DC-DC Converter
Warning Systems
Test Bench

OMEGA Instrument

The OMEGA Instrument, designed by ESA astronaut and Solar Impulse head of flight test operation Claude Nicollier, is used to indicate the flight path and alerts the pilots if the angles of the wings exceed a normal limit. The single horizontal light bar indicates the lateral angle while the two shorter vertical light bars show the pilot the bank angle of the wings.

Energy Dispatcher

HB-SIB is equipped with one energy dispatcher on each wing. The energy dispatchers make use of bi-directional functionality to ensure that either gondola battery can support the other on the same wing in the event that one engine fails. The energy dispatcher transfers the energy that has been produced by the solar cells on the gondola with the failed engine and distributes it to its functioning counterpart so that the plane can continue to fly.

DC-DC Converter

Solar energy is used to power the instruments in the cockpit through high-voltage batteries in each of the plane’s four gondolas. The DC-DC Converter converts the energy from the gondola batteries to a low voltage (28V) so that the plane’s low-power cockpit electronics can also function with energy from the sun. The conversion system in Si2 is lighter, smaller and more efficient than other similar converters available on the market.

Warning Systems

VIBRATING SLEEVES
The sleeves of the pilot suit vibrate to ensure that the pilot will react in a timely fashion to the critical information provided by the instrument. This technology, which resembles the cuffs a doctor places on a patient to test his or her blood pressure, makes use of small knobs whose vibration is enhanced by a soft plastic casing. The vibration is strong enough to wake the pilot from his power nap during a long-distance flight.

OMEGA BUZZ
OMEGA has also created a special alarm that emits a loud buzz between 90 to 100 decibels every 20 minutes until the pilot pushes a button to turn the sound off and restart the 20-minute countdown.

Test Bench

In 2007, OMEGA provided the Solar Impulse team with the test bench: a system which enabled the team to simulate the plane’s electric system on the ground. The system was upgraded to accommodate the enhanced technologies used on Si2.

“The greatest danger is not taking risks, but living our life full of certitudes.”
Bertrand Piccard

The Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse Limited Edition

The OMEGA Speedmaster Skywalker X-33 Solar Impulse Limited Edition celebrates a project whose aim is to circle the globe in an airplane powered only by the sun. OMEGA collaborated with Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg on the concept of this innovative timepiece which has been tested and qualified by the European Space Agency and was developed based on an ESA patent filed by astronaut Jean-François Clervoy. It is presented on a blue and green-bordered polyamide "NATO" strap and is limited to just 1,924 pieces.

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