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Solar Impulse zero-fuel plane lands in Abu Dhabi, completing historic round-the-world trip

After 18 months, Solar Impulse's sun-powered circumnavigation is complete, as the pilot hails a "new era in aviation."

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Sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse has completed its historic round-the-world trip, landing in Abu Dhabi having travelled the whole way around the globe using only solar energy.

The 17-stage journey began way back in March last year, and included a record-breaking solo flight from Japan to Hawaii. The aim of the successful mission was to bring attention to clean technologies, and prove that flying a plane using only sunlight was a genuine possibility.

Overheating batteries were just one of the many obstacles the team encountered during the voyage -- a glitch that led to a nine-month layover in Hawaii.

"The way it's built allows it to fly day and night without fuel," said Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard, in an in-flight interview with CNET's Stephen Beacham, conducted ahead of the historic landing.

"It's like a new era in aviation. Because it's the beginning it's difficult, it's challenging, there is no benchmark," Piccard said. "We had to invent something completely new."