Altran Guides Solar Impulse Around the World Thanks to Mathematics

PARIS, March 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — One of the key challenges of the round-the-world flight that Solar Impulse and Altran are being faced with is managing long-haul, non-stop flights of up to 120 hours and transoceanic crossings of between 7,000 and 10,000 kilometres (4,400 to 6,200 miles). Over those long stretches, the Si2 solar plane will have to adapt to tricky weather conditions. Because of their inherent instability, those conditions can lead to potentially hazardous situations for the aircraft. It is on the ground, at the Mission Control Centre (MCC)[1], through a special system of mathematical calculations developed by the Altran team, that the plane’s flight-paths for this extraordinary odyssey are traced.

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Between 100-150 billion flight-path possibilities were analysed in 2014: this is how mathematics is serving one of the most incredible adventures of our time.

The mission of the Altran Flight Strategy Team at the MCC base is to explore the flight possibilities and develop optimised strategies so that the Flight Director receives a constant flow of information for the decision-making process. Altran innovative calculation system was designed to simulate optimum take-off opportunities and ensure smooth flight connections, as well as to access the margins of security and level of risk. The solutions are detailed from every angle and discussed with the three other MCC specialist teams: Meteorologists, Air Traffic Controllers, and Flight Engineers.

"Altran has developed calculation systems that are innovative in their ability to both analyse massive amounts of weather data and anticipate flight parameters precisely at all times. This enables the Flight Strategy Team to study and develop the best strategy for any given flight, and to live the flight before the aircraft even gets off the ground," explains Philippe Salle, Chairman and Chief Executive of Altran.

As Altran Head of Strategy and Forecast for Solar Impulse, Christophe Beesau and his team also provide maps and charts that are incorporated into the pilot’s operational flight plans. In addition, the Altran Team ensures the constant input of information to MCC control screens, presenting current and projected flight conditions. This enables the MCC to monitor flights at all times and anticipate any potential difficulties.

1. Nerve center of the round the world

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