Solar Impulse (Wikimedia Commons/Matth1)
Solar Impulse (Wikimedia Commons/Matth1)Wikimedia Commons/Matth1

Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft that entirely runs on sunlight, successfully completed its maiden journey on Monday.

The plane was launched from Payerne Air Base in northern Switzerland soon after sunrise. The single-seater, experimental aircraft was flown by pilot Markus Scherdel and was in the air for two hours and 17 minutes. 

Solar Impulse 2, on its maiden flight, reached up to a highest altitude of 5,500 feet (1,670 meters) with an average ground speed of 35 mph (55.6 km/h). The incredible flight was recorded by a helicopter that followed the plane.

The aim of Solar Impulse 2 is to introduce solar planes across the world, according to Solar Impulse CEO André Borschberg.

"This inaugural flight is an important stage - a step closer toward the round-the-world flight. It is also a huge emotional step for the entire team and all our partners who have worked on the aircraft. Si2 incorporates a vast amount of new technology to render it more efficient, reliable and in particular better adapted to long-haul flights. It is the first aircraft which will have almost unlimited endurance," Live Science quoted Borschberg.

Last year, Solar Impulse, the original version of the eco-friendly craft, was flown for experimental purposes and was piloted by Borschberg and his co-founder Bertrand Piccard. The flight flew from California to New York but had to make a landing at the John F Kennedy International Airport after an 8-foot-long tear was noticed on the underside of the craft's left wing. However, the damage did not affect the pilots' control on the plane or the solar batteries, and all components of the plane were working fine.

Solar Impulse 2 has wings that can stretch upto 236 feet (72 meters) and has 17,000 solar cells fitted in it. It weighs around 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilograms).

"It's already amazing to have had so little problems. Normally, on a prototype, you make a flight and you have to change a lot of things," Piccard told Live Science.

The goal of the plane is to make a complete round trip of the world in 2015.  The round-the-world trip will take place in the Northern Hemisphere with stopovers at very few cities along the way. The city from where the plane will start its world trip is yet to be determined, according to the company.