Solar pilots: ‘The right food and nutrition are critical to the success of our mission’

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé researchers worked for four years to create food to sustain the pilots on their five-month journey
Nestlé researchers worked for four years to create food to sustain the pilots on their five-month journey

Related tags: Nutrition

Nestlé has developed high-tech airline food to fuel the pilots in their record-breaking attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a solar powered aircraft.

The Solar Impulse-2 completed the first 12-hour leg of its journey today, from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, and it will hop from continent to continent over the next five months, crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in its world-first journey.

“The plane has no fuel, but the pilots have to sustain themselves, and this is what we are best at,”​ said Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé’s chief technology officer.

The company has been working with pilots Bertrand Piccard, initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse and André Borschberg, co-founder and CEO, for four years to develop food that will provide them with all of their nutritional needs on the journey, which involves big temperature swings, as the cabin is not pressurised.

“The first and uttermost priority is to support the pilots and they were telling me how difficult it was to find a diet that would sustain them from an energy point of view, and that at the same time would taste well,”​ he said.

The company’s mandate was to bring these two ideas together to make food that was both healthy and tasty, and it will provide all of the meals on board in specially designed packaging. Supplies also include Nestlé bottled water and Nescafé coffee for the pilots.

"The right food and nutrition are critical to the success of our mission, sustaining us for the long journey around the earth,” ​Piccard and Borschberg said. “We have benefited from the scientific expertise and experience of the scientists at Nestlé Research who have developed meals specially tailored for us. By working closely with the team, we also know that we’ll enjoy meal times – providing some comfort in such an extreme environment."

The pilots also intend to spread an environmental campaigning message about the potential of solar energy and sustainability – a message that Nestlé’s CTO says is very important to the company.

“What Bertrand and André are doing is they are basically telling the world, you can be a responsible environmentally friendly person and still do extraordinary things, so I am particularly grateful to be part of this adventure and I am very impressed by the way our people have taken this close to the heart,”​ he said.

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