Industrial, Solar, Sourcing Renewables - August 10, 2018
Solar-powered Airbus flies record 26 days
The Airbus' Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite), a solar-electric unmanned aircraft, stayed aloft a few minutes short of the 26 days, the longest duration flight ever made. The previous record of 14 continuous days had been set by a prototype of the Zephyr.
A report by Digital Journal noted that this maiden flight of the Zephyr is said to have proven the system’s capabilities and the engineering objectives. The aircraft ran exclusively on solar power for the duration of the flight, operating at an average altitude of 70,000 feet with a wingspan of 82 feet and a weight of 165 pounds.
"This very successful maiden flight represents a new significant milestone in the Zephyr program, adding a new stratospheric flight endurance record which we hope will be formalized very shortly," said Jana Rosenmann, head of unmanned aerial systems at Airbus. "We will in the coming days check all engineering data and outputs and start the preparation of additional flights planned for the second half of this year from our new operating site at the Wyndham airfield in Western Australia."
The vehicle is called a "pseudo-satellite" because it can provide persistent local satellite-like services. Among future uses of the Zephyr, according to the report, are disaster management by monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills as it provides this persistent surveillance; it may also provide communications to the most unconnected parts of the globe.