The Airbus Zephyr S HAPS (High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite) vehicle has successfully landed after its maiden flight. The Zephyr had spent a record-breaking 25 days aloft, the longest flight ever made.
The Zephyr is solar-powered and flies in the stratosphere, well above the weather and regular air traffic, acting as a cross between a satellite, a UAV and a conventional aircraft to deliver satellite-like services.
Zephyr is envisaged for such purposes as maritime surveillance and services, border patrol missions, communications, forest fire detection and monitoring, or navigation. Operating in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000 feet / 21 kilometers, the ultra-lightweight Zephyr has a wingspan of 25 meters and a weight of less than 75kg, and flies above weather (clouds, jet streams) and above regular air traffic, covering local or regional footprints.
“This very successful maiden flight represents a new significant milestone in the Zephyr programme, adding a new stratospheric flight endurance record which we hope will be formalised very shortly. 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” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus.