Behind the controls of the Solar Impulse

Virtual cockpit lets you follow progress of round-the-world flight in real time.

What’s it like to get behind the controls of a solar-powered plane a plane now in the process of circumnavigating the globe? You and I will never really know, but we can enjoy the next best thing: a virtual cockpit that provides a pilot’s eye view of the plane’s instrument panel.

Just point your browser to the Solar Impulse website whenever the plane is in the air, and you will see real-time updates to the plane’s flight instruments. For instance, in this screen capture, you can see the current position of the ailerons, airbrakes, elevators, and rudder, along with the airspeed (in knots), vertical speed (rate of climb or descent), heading, and altitude:

And in the following screen capture, you can see much of the same information, presented in a different fashion, along with the attitude indicator, which shows whether the wings are level and whether the nose is pointing above or below the horizon:

I've covered only a subset of the real-time information displayed on the Solar Impulse website. For example, you can also view a map of the plane’s progress, a video feed of the mission-control center, and the current power mode of the plane’s electrical system:

QNX Software Systems is the official realtime OS partner for the Solar Impulse team, and the plane uses the QNX Neutrino OS for several control and data communication functions.

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