Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg had the privelege of holding the original flight suit worn by Charles Lindbergh on his trans-Atlantic flight to Paris in 1927.
St. Louis made aviation history again this week with the arrival of Solar Impulse. The revolutionary and high-tech aircraft can fly day and night without a single drop of fuel. Solar Impulse founders, co-chairmen and co-pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are leading the mission "Across America" with stops in five cities that includes St. Louis. St. Louis was chosen as the midwest U.S. stop because of the city’s great aviation history and its link to Charles Lindbergh. The Missouri History Museum allowed both pilots to hold aviation history and a piece of the great Lindbergh story when they held the famed pilot’s flight suit. Piccard met Lindbergh when he was 11 years old.
The sustainability program at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is taking another big step with this week’s groundbreaking of a new public compressed natural gas fueling station. St. Louis–based The Laclede Group and Siemens are launching Spire natural gas fueling solutions with its first station to be built at Lambert’s Super Park Lot C facility just off of Interstate 70 at Cypress.
Spire will be open to the public with a focus to serve the region’s growing number of company fleet vehicles operating on compressed natural gas (CNG.) Natural gas is less expensive and more environmentally friendly than gasoline.
“Natural gas is the right fuel in the right place at the right time. Natural gas, and specifically compressed natural gas is helping fleet managers save money every day,” said Susanne Sitherwood, President and CEO, The Laclede Group. “We are making history today. This station is just the first of many.”
The Airport currently operates two CNG stations for its Airport vehicles and parking shuttles and has been providing CNG fueling services for some St. Louis companies. Lambert reached out through a request for proposals process to facilitate the construction of a third fueling facility because of growing demand for fueling services in the region.
“With more than 50 percent of our fleet running on CNG and other alternative fuels, we truly believe in this project,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “We’re proud to be the first location, the flagship for Spire, giving companies and motorists in St. Louis easy access to CNG.”
The Laclede Group and Siemens will launch the Spire station by the end of the year.
After a 21 hour flight, the revolutionary aircraft Solar Impulse touched down at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport helping to make aviation history again in St. Louis early Tuesday, June 4.
The plane, on a "Across America" tour, departed Dallas-Fort Worth for St. Louis on the third leg of its journey and touched down at 1:30 a.m.
Solar Impulse is using an inflatable mobile hangar for the first time in real time mission conditions during part of its stay at Lambert, which will include private and public events over the coming days. The revolutionary structure was conceived and designed by Solar Impulse for the around-the-world mission in 2015, but will now provide a shelter after last weekend’s storm that severely damaged the hangar reserved for Solar Impulse at Lambert.
“We brought the inflatable hangar to the USA for testing purposes and in fact it allowed the mission to stay on schedule. This exercise is now a proof of concept: rather than taking the airplane to a hangar, we have taken the hangar to the airplane,” said André Borschberg, Co-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse.
Bertrand Piccard, Chairman and Co-Pilot of Solar Impulse, commanded the cockpit for this leg of the journey, his longest flight in the single-seat cockpit to date. Co-founder, CEO and Co-Pilot Andre Borschberg greeted Piccard at the landing and then both greeted a VIP crowd who watched the early morning historic landing.
The choice of St. Louis as the Solar Impulse Midwest stop pays homage to aviation history here with the city's deep connections to Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was a chief pilot for the Chicago to St. Louis U.S. Mail Route in the mid '20s. The city’s business leaders, including the namesake of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Albert Bond Lambert, supported Lindbergh in his bid to make the first trans-Atlantic flight between New York and Paris in 1927 in the “Spirit of St. Louis.”
“It was particularly important for me to come to St. Louis because I was so inspired when I met Charles Lindbergh at Cape Canaveral during a launch of the Apollo when I was eleven years old. I’m truly moved to be able to land here today with Solar Impulse,” said Bertrand Piccard.
The public viewing of the plane is set for Thursday and Friday morning through a free registration process but availabilty will be limited. Visit http://www.solarimpulse.com/ for more info.
The Friday, May 31 severe storm that rocked the St. Louis region caused extensive damage to several airport support buildings and hangars at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport based on an initial assessments by the Airport on Saturday.
The damage will alter the exhibit plans for the Solar Impulse aircraft which is scheduled to arrive late Monday or early Tuesday morning with several days of public and private events to follow at the AIrport. The high-tech solar powered plane was scheduled to be parked in Building 2, the former McDonnell Douglas hangar on the north side of the Airfield. Solar Impulse decided to neither postpone nor to cancel the flight to St. Louis and will use its own prototype inflatable hangar in the same general area of the Airport's hangar. This structure, conceived and designed by the Solar Impulse team, will be used for the very first time in real conditions. The schedule of events will be released at a later time by the Solar Impulse mission team.
Portions of the hangar roof on Building 2 were torn off the building. The Airport has deemed the facility no longer occupiable because of the safety of the roof is compromised. The walls and the rest of the hangar structure are intact.
The Airport also suffered hangar damage to the facility immediately to the west of Building 2. The ATS Jet Center also had extensive roof damage on the aircraft maintenance center. Portions of that hangar, leased by Airport Terminal Services (ATS) and Trans States Airlines, are also no longer occupiable because of roof damage. The Airport is working with those tenants to continue to operate.
On the west side of Terminal 1, Lambert suffered roof damage to its primary Airfield Maintenance and Auto Shop complex. Portions of the roof were torn off and bay doors for the auto shop were damaged or collapsed during the storm. The Airport suffered damage to numerous vehicles both in the shop at the time or parked outside the facilities. The Airport’s Materials Management warehouse in the same general area also suffered roof damage. The warehouse is the storage for all Airport parts, equipment and operational supplies.
Lastly, the Airport has reports of damage to its remote parking lot, Super Park Lot C.
There are no cost estimates at this time from the preliminary assessment of the damage. Nobody was injured in the storm. The Airport is now working with its insurance company, consultants and contractors on a post storm recovery plan.
June 1, 2013 12 a.m.
Flight activity can resume at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport after the airfield re-opened just before midnight. It was closed around 8 p.m. Friday night. The ground stop continued for nearly four hours because of extensive debris from the storm was blown onto runways, taxiways and the ramp.
Crews have removed the debris to restore flight activity for airlines that still have flight operations for the evening. Some airlines will resume service Saturday morning.
The storm caused building damage to some airport facilities. Lambert terminals and concourses were not damaged during the storm. Passengers, employees and visitors were advised to seek shelter in restrooms and move to lower levels of the terminal before the storm hit. There were no reports of injuries.
May 31, 2013 Storm Update
The airfield at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is closed after a storm caused damage to some airport buildings and blew debris onto runways, taxiways and ramp areas. Cleanup of debris on the airfield is underway and could take a couple of hours, at least through 11:30 to midnight. There are no reports of damage or injuries to passengers or visitors who were in Lambert terminals and concourses during the severe storm that hit just after 8 p.m. tonight. The Airport put out weather alerts prior to the storm for the public to take shelter in restrooms or move to lower levels of the terminals.
The Airport has confirmed damage to some aviation support facilities including roof damage to the Airport's auto shop and a building that stored emergency response equipment. A guard station was also damaged in the storm. A security guard was in the station at the time and was pulled from the damaged shack. She was not injured.
There are also reports of debris on some area roadways at the airport. Cleanup on the roadways is also continuing.
Terminals and concourses remain open. Services are open for passengers and the public during this time.
All further updates will be posted on the Airport's website blog at http://www.flystl.com/Newsroom/Blog.aspx.
Solar Impulse, the first aircraft capable of flying day and night powered exclusively by solar energy, will be one stop closer to St. Louis after it finishes its second U.S. leg from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport. The arrival at DFW is scheduled sometime after midnight, May 23. It left Phoenix before sunrise this morning, May 22.
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will be the next destination for the “Solar Impulse Across America” flight, which will also make stops at Washington DC-Dulles and New York’s JFK airports.
The public is being offered a chance to view the plane at each of the five U.S. airports on its Across America flight plan. Solar Impulse is a prototype carbon fiber airplane with a wingspan of a jumbo jet (208ft) and the weight of a small car (3,500 lbs.). The aircraft is powered by 12,000 solar cells built into its wings which provide power to four 10hp electric motors. Solar cells recharge the aircraft’s lithium batteries during the day flight which allows the plane to continue flying at night.
Fans and supporters of the world’s most advanced solar-powered airplane can sign up at www.solarimpulse.com (Join Us link) for the latest news and events including specific viewing opportunities in St. Louis when it arrives. The arrival date in St. Louis has not been set yet. The aircraft could arrive at Lambert within the next week or two based on the weather and other flight operations.
Two rating agencies have announced ratings increases on Lambert-St. Louis International Airport debt. Moody’s raised its rating to A3-stable outlook from Baa1 with a stable outlook. Standard & Poor’s raised its rating to A- with a stable outlook from A- with a negative outlook. This is the first time in more than a decade that both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s ratings for the Airport have both been in the single “A” category.
Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings upgraded outstanding airport revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'BBB' with a stable outlook.
These rating improvements will help Lambert maximize its refunding savings when it enters the market next month with a $32 million bond refunding expected to net more than $3 million in savings for Lambert’s signatory air carriers.
The rating agencies attributed the upgrades to strong fiscal management and positive passenger traffic. Just released, passenger enplanements at Lambert Airport jumped 2.5 percent in April versus a year ago. Approximately 522,900 passengers boarded planes versus 509,000 in April 2012. For the first four months of 2013, Lambert is up nearly one percent with total enplanements of 1.95 million versus 1.93 million in the same January through April time frame in 2012.
Total passengers, both arriving and departing, was up 2.1 percent in April versus a year ago. Approximately 1.05 million passengers have traveled through Lambert so far this year versus 1.03 million in 2012 for a year to date increase of one percent.
Fitch Ratings has upgraded St. Louis, Missouri's $740.2 million outstanding airport revenue bonds to 'BBB+' from 'BBB'. The global rating agency says the outlook for the City of St. Louis bonds remains stable.
The Fitch Ratings announcement noted continued stable traffic trends at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport following years of volatility due to the loss of the American Airlines hub and the economic recession. Furthermore, Fitch's baseline expectation is for leverage and airline costs to remain stable going forward and prudent fiscal management of the operating and capital expenditures is also a factor that helped strengthen the airport’s financial profile.
The bonds are secured by the net revenues generated from airport operations.
“The airport’s conservative debt profile, strong fiscal management and continued stability in airline traffic are all contributing factors to the positive news of the credit rating upgrade for the airport bonds,” said St. Louis City Comptroller Darlene Green.
“While continuing to operate a safe and efficient airport, we have been aggressive in reducing costs, growing revenue and growing community support for Lambert,” said Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “It’s all helping to gain the attention of rating agencies.”
Lambert has seen two straight years of passenger growth. This summer, Lambert airlines are operating on average 255 daily departures to 63 non-stop locations. Lambert’s newest non-stop to Grand Rapids, MI will begin in August on Southwest Airlines.
Avoid parking fees the next time you pick up a passenger. Lambert provides free waiting zones for motorists near each terminal.